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Knee Injuries and Knee Pain

The knee joint is one of the largest and most important joints in the body, an articulation between the femur, tibia, fibula and patella that carries your weight when walking, running or jumping. The ligaments around this joint both stabilise and limit certain movements. If you take part in sports, injuries to your ligaments, cartilage and tendons can be common. As your knee supports the full weight of your body, obesity can also play a contributing factor to knee pain, the excess weight adding extra compression onto knee joints.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always consult your GP or other relevant health specialist.

Causes of painful knees

Strain – If you have taken part in more activity than you are normally used to and feel pain in your knee, this could be the result of a strain. This is where tissues in your knee have stretched but not suffered any permanent damage.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury – The ACL, which stabilises your knee, can tear as a result of twisting and overstretching the ligament. Once an ACL has ruptured, your knee will become unstable and prevent its full range of movement. This is one of the most common injuries picked up playing sports like football or rugby.

Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury – The LCL is found on the outside of your knee and limits side-to-side movement. Like an ACL injury, this can tear as a result of twisting or being hit on the inside of your knee.

Accidents - Acute injuries, such as sudden damage after an accident, may harm the bone, muscle or ligaments.

Damage to the knee joints (meniscal injury) – between the bones in your knee sit shock-absorbing pads of tissue called menisci. These pads, found on the inside and outside edges of your knee, can become worn with age or torn after sudden movement. Damage to the menisci can be one of the most common causes of knee pain for middle-aged people.

Chronic injury – Pain from swelling can develop over time, frequently through overuse. This can be from athletic activity or physical exercise or develop because of age or from previous knee injuries.

Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Characteristics of the condition include inflammation of tissues around the joints and damage to the protective surface of the bones that allow joints to move easily without friction. The condition normally develops in people over the age of 50 and women are more likely to be affected than men.

Tendonitis – Tendonitis (otherwise known as runner’s or jumper’s knee) can be caused by overusing or injuring the tendons that join to your patella. As the name suggests, this inflammation of the tendon can be triggered by running or jumping activities like basketball, volleyball or netball.

Bursitis – The inflammation of a bursa (a fluid-filled sac that provides a cushion between bones and tendons or muscles around a joint) can swell and become tender through overuse or repetitive movement. People who are likely to be at more risk of developing bursitis of the knee are those who spend a lot of time kneeling, such as gardeners or carpet fitters. Historically, this condition was typical of housemaids, hence the condition also being known as housemaid’s knee.

The above is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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