Image by Terry Shultz

KNEE PAIN

How Common is Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a very common complaint both with athletes as well as with the aging population. It is a complex joint with several ligaments and cartilage providing joint support and stability. When any of those ligaments or cartilage are compromised the knee becomes unstable, potentially causing pain and making it difficult to perform daily tasks even as simple as walking or standing up from a chair. Knee pain is one of the most common complaints individuals seek out Physical Therapy to help treat their symptoms.

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a small piece of cartilage that helps stabilize your knee joint. It helps protect your femur and tibia from wear and tear on one another, acting as a shock absorber. Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. A simple twist of the knee joint can cause the meniscus to tear, in turn leading to pain and instability at the joint. Unfortunately, due to the lack of blood flow to the meniscus, the cartilage does not heel well from injury. Many meniscus tears can be treated conservatively though Physical Therapy, but depending on the severity of the tear, arthroscopic surgery might be required to cut away the torn tissue if it is impeding on the joint.

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ACL Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments in the knee. It is also the most commonly injured ligament of the knee typically involving sports. Any type of torsion on the joint such as a sudden stop or change in direction or landing on a twisted knee can cause a tear to the ACL. It is very rare to simply have a partial tear to the ACL, therefore once torn it almost always requires surgical repair followed by Physical Therapy to help regain strength in the knee joint.

Knee Total Joint Replacement

Total knee replacements (TKR) surgery is typically done to help relieve pain and restore function to a knee that is damaged or worn and often arthritic. Over the course of a lifetime, the cartilage in your knee may wear down or be completely gone depending on the amount of damage sustained to the joint. Movement then becomes very painful and the knee is almost non-functional. At that point conservative treatments such as medications and walking supports are no longer helpful to reduce the joint pain, ultimately necessitating a TKR surgery.

 

The process of a TKR surgery is approximately 2 hours, where the surgeon removes the arthritic portions of the Femoral condyles, head of the tibia, posterior aspect of the patella (kneecap). The surgeon then prepares the joint surface by attaching the artificial joint ends to the bone, bends/extends the knee to confirm proper function and finally closes up the joint.

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