We use (and sometimes abuse) our knees daily, so it’s not hard to imagine that knee pain is a common complaint. We see all kinds of knee problems at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but arthritis, ACL tears, and tendinitis are the most common. Below, Dr. Bryan King and Dr. Jeffrey Cuomo discuss each one, offer some tips for alleviating the pain, and outline our treatment options:
Osteoarthritis inflames and stiffens your joints, especially your knees. Over time, the protective cartilage wears away, causing swelling, limited range of motion, stiffness, and pain when moving.
Try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen to ease the swelling and discomfort, and talk to our team about how physical therapy can get you moving freely again by stretching and strengthening muscles around the joint.
Your knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) helps stabilize the joint, but it’s highly susceptible to injury. If you tear it while playing sports or some other traumatic event, it can be debilitating.
We usually treat ACL tears with surgery, followed by physical therapy to strengthen muscles around the joint and regain full range of motion.
Fortunately, we offer arthroscopic surgery. Unlike traditional open surgery, this minimally invasive technique enables us to preserve your healthy tissue during the procedure, so you feel less pain and have a shorter recovery period.
In some cases, such as when surgery may be too risky or not necessary (such as with a mild tear), we may recommend wearing a brace for additional support while doing physical therapy exercises to improve strength and stability.
Engaging in activities that call for repetitive motions — think running, jumping, styling hair, and playing tennis — can inflame the tendons that connect your muscles and bones. Symptoms include sharp pains near the tendon and tenderness when pressing on it.
Resting from activities that trigger your symptoms is key when treating tendinitis; ibuprofen and ice packs also help.
Arthritis, ACL tears, and tendinitis aren’t the only conditions that cause knee pain; we also see dislocated kneecaps, fractures, torn menisci, patellofemoral syndrome, and loose bodies floating in the joint. There’s a lot you can do to prevent and reduce knee pain.
The first step in preventing knee pain is to maintain an active lifestyle. By exercising regularly, you:
Choose exercises that fit your age and fitness level because you can cause long-term damage if you overexert yourself. For example, swimming and walking are excellent low-impact activities that ease the pain of arthritis and tendinitis.
Warming up before working out or engaging in other physical activities prepares your body by increasing circulation, loosening tight muscles, and preventing muscle strain or tears due to sudden movements or jumps during exercise routines.
Proper stretching helps to improve your range of motion while strengthening tendons around the knee joint. We recommend dynamic stretching — such as leg swings — over standing stretches, which may not adequately prepare your muscles for more strenuous activity.
Good nutrition plays a major role in helping prevent knee pain by providing essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy joint function and growth:
You can get these nutrients from supplements, but we recommend eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to get them naturally.
Wearing supportive shoes during physical activities is essential for keeping your knees safe. Shoes should fit comfortably with plenty of cushioning around the toes and heels and have adequate arch support.
Shoes that don't fit correctly can cause misalignment in your gait. which may lead to further problems down the line such as tendinitis or even bursitis (inflammation of bursas, the fluid-filled sacs located near joints).
Make sure you replace athletic shoes every 300-500 miles depending on wear and tear, because worn-out shoes may not provide adequate support leading and instead increase your risk of injury while participating in sports.
If your knee pain lasts for more than a few days, contact Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute to meet with our specialists and get started on the right treatment.