Knee Pain

February 14, 2015 | Stem Cell Therapy | Symptoms

Even before we learn to walk, from the moment we start to crawl, our knees become an integral part of how we get around. From that day, and every day thereafter, we ask a lot of the hinge joints (synovial joints) we know as our knees.

In fact, when walking on level ground, the force on our knees is the equivalent of 1.5 times our body weight. That means a 200-pound man is placing 300 pounds of pressure on his knees with each step. When walking on an incline or climbing stairs, that amount of pressure increases, as it does when running, biking or carrying heavy loads. Simply kneeling to tie your shoes or picking up something off the ground, the force on your knees is nearly five times your bodyweight.

Now, think about that amount of force relative to how we use our knees. Bending down to pick up our kids or grandkids, putting in miles on the treadmill or bicycle, our favorite athletic activities, even just a walk on the beach or a stroll through the park… All of these activities that bring us so much joy, health and life enrichment, are hard on our knees. But, the older we get, the more we feel the effects of that repetitive joint stress.

What happens then? Our knees let us know something’s not right. Unfortunately, we tend to shrug off the early signs of knee disease or injury, chalking it up to “age” or “a minor ache.” While, in some cases, minor knee pain will go away on its own, a lot of the symptoms we try to ignore are indicators of something more than “age” … and many of these symptoms will simply not heal on their own.

Symptoms of Knee Disease or Injury

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), knee pain is, reportedly, one of the most common causes of chronic pain. But what are the warning signs that your knees may be in trouble? Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch for:

  • Pain, which may begin as an occasional, minor ache or sharp pain, may radiate up or down the leg and into the hip
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Reduced functionality
  • Popping or scraping when walking, kneeling or climbing stairs (crepitus), is indicative of joint degeneration

What conditions or medical issues cause these symptoms? Before we answer that question, we need to take a closer look at the knee, so you can better understand what is being affected by any diseases or injuries that may be causing your symptoms.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is a strong and complex hinge joint tasked with offering both support and flexibility. As a hinge joint, the knee allows the leg to bend and flex, while limiting lateral (side-to-side) or rotating movement. A system of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and other soft tissue makes this movement possible:
Healthy-Knee-Tendons-and-Joints

  • Bones — The femur (thigh), tibia (shin) and patella (kneecap)
  • Ligaments — Elastic tissue that connects bones: medial collateral, lateral collateral, anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate
  • Tendons — The quadriceps and patellar connect leg muscles to the bones of the knee joint
  • Meniscus — Cartilage between the femur and the tibia that protects the joint
  • Articular Cartilage — Allows the knee bones to move smoothly as the joint works

Damage or disease in any of these components of the knee joint can result in pain, weakness and loss of function. In addition to traumatic injuries that cause pain and weakness in the knee — sprains, strains, joint dislocation, torn cartilage or torn ligaments — there are several common medical conditions that cause knee pain, weakness or function loss.Knee-Osteoarthritis

  • Baker’s Cyst — A cyst that causes bulging or tightness behind the knee
  • Bursitis — Inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac near the knee joint, can be caused by injury, bacterial infection, or repetitive stress on the joint
  • Chondromalacia Patella — The breakdown of cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap), especially common in women
  • Osteoarthritis — A progressive, degenerative condition in which the deterioration of cartilage, growth of bone spurs, and increased bone density cause pain and limit joint function
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome — Also called “runner’s knee,” this condition is common in people who participate in athletics including running, tennis, basketball and other sports requiring repetitive stopping, starting, bending and flexing
  • Tendonitis — Strain in the patellar tendon causes pain, sometimes referred to as “jumper’s knee,” because it is a common condition in athletes

 

Risk Factors for Knee Pain or Disease

While injury is a common reason for knee pain, there are many other risk factors that can increase your odds of developing knee pain or weakness. These factors include age, previous injuries or trauma, improper stretching before physical activity, repetitive bending or flexing for work or recreation, and obesity.

How big an issue is obesity when talking about knee pain? Remember how much pressure we put on our knees when walking or climbing stairs? For every pound a person is overweight, they add four extra pounds of pressure to the knee.

Preventing and Treating Minor Knee Pain

If you are beginning to experience occasional knee pain, or you believe you may have experienced a minor injury or strain on your knee joint, there are a few treatments you can try to reduce pain and prevent further injury:

  • Rest the joint
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling
  • Treat pain and inflammation with over-the-counter drugs
  • Careful stretching to keep the ligaments and tendons healthy
  • Low-impact exercise to strengthen the muscles around the joint
  • Choose footwear with better support and cushioning
  • And, if overweight, lose weight to decrease pressure on your knees

If these preventative measures fail and your pain continues to worsen, Dr. Skaliy may suggest Epidural Steroid Injections for temporary pain relief. This mix of anti-inflammatory corticosteroid and anesthetic medication can relieve pain and reduce the inflammation causing the pain.

Diagnosing Chronic Knee Pain

Because the cause of your knee pain and other symptoms may be one of many things, and many of these conditions have similar symptoms, there are several tests necessary to accurately diagnose the cause.

Diagnostics begin with a physical examination to determine the extent and location of the pain, tenderness or other symptoms as well as to determine how well the knee is functioning. From there, medical imaging such as X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI may be recommended to enable the doctor to get a better look at the joint.

Surgical Intervention for Knee Pain

As symptoms of joint degeneration increase and become chronic, patients may reach a point where the pain and loss of function is so severe, a doctor may recommend knee surgery. There are several different types of surgery, based on the amount of damage in the knee.

But, no matter how invasive or extensive, all surgeries come with inherent risks, possible side-effects and unknown long-term prognosis. Because of these risks, before you elect surgery, Dr. Skaliy recommends minimally-invasive non-surgical options to treat knee pain. These treatments include Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) and Stem Cell Therapy.

READ BLOG: Stem Cells or Surgery: Which is the best solution for knee pain?

Non-Surgical Options for Treating Knee Pain

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) — Concentrated blood platelets, donated by the patient receiving care, are used to activate and enhance the body’s own healing ability. The blood is placed into a specialized centrifuge to separate growth factors and stem cells from the red and white blood cells. The result is a super-concentrated platelet rich plasma. The plasma is then injected into the affected joint.

Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) — A minimally-invasive treatment that promotes healing and regeneration in the affected joint. For more than a decade now, physicians have been using Stem Cell Therapy to successfully treat 65 different medical condition, including joint disease or injury. Stem cell treatment has many benefits over surgery, including:

  • Treatment is quick, generally a same-day, outpatient procedure
  • Recovery time is fast; patients can often return to normal activity very soon
  • The implanted cells immediately go to work healing and replacing damaged cells
  • Patients typically notice a significant difference in a few short weeks
  • The results just keep getting better as those cells continue to repair and replenish.

 

Listen to what one of our patients had to say about how Stem Cell Therapy changed his life:

“My stem cell treatment procedure was the simplest and least invasive procedure that I have ever had. From check in to check out, everything was done to make sure I was comfortable. My knee had been hurting for a long time and it felt better within weeks and I am now pain free. I can now do all the activities that I have not been able to do for years. Thank you Dr. Skaliy.” – Jay M.
To learn what is causing your knee pain and what the best treatment program for you may be, click here to make an appointment with Dr. Skaliy today.

About the Author

Dr. Michael Skaliy

Throughout his career Dr. Michael Skaliy has felt that medicine is a rapidly changing field and he’s continued to stay up to date to bring the latest cutting edge therapies into his practice. Most recently, he introduced stem cell therapy and minimally invasive same day spine surgery, which is done through a small device the size of a pencil.

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