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What are the Most Common Knee Problems?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Most people encounter knee problems at some point or another. Some individuals develop such problems at an early age, while others may experience them as a result of aging. Injury is one of the most common causes of knee problems. Conditions affecting the joints, such as arthritis and tendinitis, can also be contributing factors. One of the most common reasons for visiting an orthopedic doctor is due to problems with the knees.

Knee problems commonly result from an injury. The injury can occur due to an automobile accident or direct physical trauma to the knee while playing sports or participating in some other form of physical activity. Sometimes, a normal course of walking that may result in a sudden turn or twisting of the knee can cause an injury. A bone fracture and damage to ligaments and muscles of the knee can be caused by a knee injury.

A bruise may be the first indication of a hurt knee. The knee may be scarred and discolored directly after an injury. In addition to pain, knee swelling may also be present. A hard fall on the knee can cause bruising. Typically, after this type of injury, elevation, icing the knee, and resting it may be all the treatment needed. Most of the times, it will be important to refrain from placing too much pressure on the knee until the bruising and any pain subsides.

Injuries sometimes result in a knee sprain. A sprain can happen if ligaments of the knee are stretched too far beyond their normal position. The purpose of ligaments is to hold bones together in fixed positions. Pain is a common symptom of this knee problem, and resting the knee and applying a compression bandage, if swelling is present, is generally the most prescribed form of treatment.

Other common knee problems can include knee strains and knee hyperextension. A strain generally occurs when tendons and muscles of the knee are damaged, usually due to an injury. Overstretching these tendons and muscles in activities such as running or playing contact sports are some common ways to cause this type of injury. Knee hyperextension is the name given to overexerting or straightening the knee too far beyond the normal capacity. This knee problem may result from years of overuse or an injury.

Arthritis and tendinitis can develop in the joints and cause additional knee problems. Over time, arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, can cause cartilage of the joints to wear away. Knee tendinitis is another condition which can cause inflammation as well swelling and irritation to the tendons of the knee. Both of these conditions generally cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Symptoms and treatment methods for knee problems will vary according to the type of problem present. Most problems caused by injuries have general knee symptoms such as pain, swelling, and weakness in the knee, especially directly after the injury. Conditions such as arthritis will also commonly result in pain in addition to stiffness of the joints, which may make walking difficult. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for treatment and, in some cases, a protection device such as a brace may be provided to support the knee and give it an opportunity to heal. In some situations, surgery may be needed to repair severe damage and restore the knee to a normal level of activity.

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Discussion Comments
By anon78507 — On Apr 19, 2010

I fell on concrete on both knees in 1996, had no previous problems but had severe bruising to both knees and now have arthritis in both. Would the x-ray taken at the time of the fall show if there was onset of arthritis before the fall.

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