Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weird Pain And Tightness In Both Knees When Bending

Ques: About a couple of weeks ago, I was driving to a long distance and was constantly sitting. I stretched my leg out and heard/felt like there was some kind of pressure. It has become really stiff/ there is some kind of pressure around it. I have no idea what this is. It is so much painful. Help me!

Anterior view of the right knee

Knee pain is usually as a result of injury in the knee. When you experience knee pain you should visit your doctor immediately.  Knees are usually susceptible to injuries such as wear and tear which is as a result of movement. The wear and tear usually leads to pain swelling and limited movement of the joints. Knee pain is usually as a result of:

i. Lateral Meniscus Tear

This is a tear or injury of the meniscus cartilage. The injury commonly occurs when there is twisting and engaging in weight-lifting activities. Lateral meniscus tear can be caused by traumatic injuries especially in athletes and degenerative bone disease in the elderly people. The symptoms of lateral meniscus tear are pain while running, jogging, and knee joint swelling, buckling of the knees and a popping sound mostly when you are climbing stairs. If you have lateral meniscus tear you may not be able to flex the knees or you may experience pain when you flex the knee.

The treatment for lateral meniscus tear is based on the severity and the cause of the tear. When the tear has been caused by an injury, anti-inflammatory medicines are usually used in combination with rest and elevation. A surgery can also be done in the case the drugs used fail to have an effect. The common surgery that is usually done is the knee arthroscopy.

ii. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

This is also called the runner's knee. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is usually caused by bending of the knees, misalignment of the knee cap, a direct blow, a weak thigh muscle or a flat fleet.

Symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome include knee pain when walking, kneeling, squatting and running. Swelling occurs and a popping and a grinding sensation are felt while walking or when flexing the knees.

Treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome involves RICE treatment which is rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The RICE treatment is used to stop the pain. Other forms of treatment involve using special shoes called orthoses or knee braces which help to speed the process of recovering.

Surgery treatment such as arthroscopy or knee realignment surgery can also be helpful in cases of severe runner's knee.

iii. Patellar Tendonitis

The patellar tendonitis is also known as Jumper's knee. It is a sport related knee injury that affects the patellar tendon. Patellar tendonitis can be as a result of a lot of jumping and landing. The symptoms of patellar tendonitis include pain after intense activity and extreme pain that can result to immobility. Other signs of the patellar tendonitis include pain in the knee cap, knee stiffness and weakness in the calf muscle. Treatment of patellar tendonitis can involve resting, icing, and elevating the knee so as to reduce the pain. Wearing an infrapatellar strap can help in supporting the knee. Anti-inflammatory medication and specialized injection can be used in desensitizing the pain. A physiotherapist can recommend massage and minimum impact exercises so as to make the joints strong. In severe cases surgery may be required.

iv. Bursitis

This is the inflammation of the fluid filled sac called bursa in the knee joints as a result of squatting, kneeling, and excessive friction. The symptoms of bursitis include pain when bending or flexing the knee and swelling. The pain is usually not excess.

Treatment of bursitis can be directed towards the symptoms such as inflammation where anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids injections are used. The doctor can also draw out excess fluid in the bursae using the needle. Gel knee pads and physical therapy can be used in strengthening the muscles. When the condition gets worse surgery can be done.

v. Knee Ligament Injuries

The knee ligament injuries are painful and commonly occur in athletes. They cause extreme pain when you bend or flex the muscles.

Knee ligament injuries can be caused by shifting weight from one leg to another suddenly, lifting the knee against hard surfaces, twisting the knee and extending the knee excessively.

The symptoms of knee ligament injuries include swelling around the joints, a loud snap at the time of injury, excess pain and inability to move legs.

Knee ligament injuries are treated using RICE and anti-inflammatory pain killers. Strengthening exercises can be helpful but you should only start the exercises after the doctor's recommendation. In case of severe damage, reconstructive knee surgery can be done.

Other injuries which can cause knee pain when bending include cartilage tear, synovial plica syndrome, tendinitis, Pliotibial Band syndrome and Osgood Schletter disease.

Medical conditions that can cause knee pain when bending include knee osteoarthritis, lupus, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis of the knee. RICE can also be used in treatment of the conditions.