The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis can develop due to the everyday wear-and-tear our knee joints are subjected to; however, osteoarthritis of the knee can also be related to overuse, obesity, genetic predisposition and trauma.
There are two main categories of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis refers to the onset of a generalized condition occurring in the knees, fingers, thumbs, hips and spine that is brought about by normal wear-and-tear. Secondary osteoarthritis refers to the onset of osteoarthritis following an injury, inflammation or some other condition that affects the composition of the cartilage in the joint.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary, but typically include stiffness, inflammation and pain in the arthritic joint. If the knee sustains an injury or is overused, pain may appear suddenly and become severe quickly or the pain may come on gradually and slowly worsen.
When the meniscal cartilage in the knee is torn, it is referred to as a meniscus tear. This cartilage injury usually occurs when the knee is bent and is then quickly turned or twisted while the foot itself remains firmly planted on the ground. However, a sudden movement is not always necessary and these tears may also occur while an individual is lifting something heavy, squatting or kneeling. Furthermore, as we age, the wear-and-tear (degeneration) of the cartilage in the knee may cause it to weaken; thus, making it even easier for the menisci to tear.
A meniscus tear may be categorized as minor, moderate or severe. Symptoms associated with a minor tear include mild pain and inflammation.
The symptoms of a moderate meniscus tear may take a few days to develop and include inflammation as well as a sharp pain in the center of or on the side of the knee that occurs while twisting it or squatting. If not treated, this pain may come and go intermittently for years to come.
Following a severe meniscus tear, pieces of the meniscus can begin interfering with the ability of the joint to function, which leads to a popping, locking or catching of the knee. Straightening the knee may also be challenging. Besides stiffness and inflammation, the knee may give way or feel unstable.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Strains, and Sprains
The anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone) inside the joint of the knee. The ACL and PCL allow the knee to move forward and backward without permitting it to move from one side to the other. When an ACL/PCL sprain or strain occurs, the ligament may separate from the bone, rupture or be torn.
Injuries to knee ligaments often occur while an individual is participating in sports, or while he or she is at work and the knee is twisted, bent backwards or forcibly hit. Other common causes of injury to the ligaments in the knee include stopping suddenly or overextending the knee. During especially traumatic events, multiple ligaments can sustain injury.
Mild injuries to the ligament, such as a sprain, involve minor tearing or stretching of ligament fibers. A severe injury to the ACL/PCL may include completely torn ligament fibers. Symptoms of a severe ligament injury to the knee include extreme pain, inflammation and a snapping or popping sound at the moment the injury occurred.
While pain is usually present with a ligament injury even while the knee is at rest, putting weight on or bending the knee typically causes the intensity of the pain to increase. The ligament that has sustained damage determines which portion of the knee in which an individual will experience pain. If the pain is deep within the knee, the cruciate (ACL/PCL) ligaments may be damaged, whereas pain on the inner or outer portions of the knee may indicate that the medial or lateral collateral ligaments (MCL/LCL) have been damaged.
When damage occurs to the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones at the knee joint, it is referred to as a chondral injury. If the bone itself has also sustained damage, it is referred to as an osteochondral injury.
When the articular cartilage sustains an injury, it typically occurs in combination with other injuries to the knee. Other injuries sustained at the same time may include damage to the meniscal cartilage and/or the ligaments in the knee. Although there are no nerves or blood vessels associated with the articular cartilage itself, pain may be felt when the knee is moved or while it is bearing weight. The fluidity of movement may be affected if a piece of the articular cartilage disrupts the knee’s ability to move freely. Inflammation may also be present.
If you are experiencing knee pain, there are some telltale signs that indicate you should seek treatment from an experienced physician right away.
These signs include:
- severe pain, even when the knee is at rest;
- the inability to put weight on the knee;
- numbness, tingling and/or inflammation;
- the knee appears deformed or misshapen;
- warmth around the knee;
- soreness; and
- continued pain after a week of at-home treatment.
If you are suffering with lingering or unexplained knee pain, contact Dr. Joshua G. Hackel to schedule an initial consultation. Dr. Hackel provides patients with non-surgical and minimally-invasive procedures for pain relief and regeneration. He specializes in musculoskeletal ultrasound for the diagnosis and treatment of orthopaedic and musculoskeletal injuries.
Dr. Hackel is a dedicated physician who concentrates on providing his patients with the most innovative diagnostic and pain relief treatment options available. Each patient receives a custom-tailored treatment plan that is specifically designed to meet his or her needs. The caring staff and medical professionals at the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida, work together to create coordinating multidisciplinary rehabilitative treatment programs utilizing a variety of procedures and techniques.
Treatment programs may include bone marrow- and adipose-derived stem-cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma injections, and ultrasound-guided diagnostic and/or therapeutic injections to the tendon sheaths, muscles, joints and/or the bursae. Dr. Hackel also offers detailed physical rehabilitation plans, prescriptions and can recommend nutritional supplements to maximize your health and wellness. To schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Joshua G. Hackel at the Andrews Institute, please call 850-916-8783. The address for Dr. Hackel’s office at the Andrews Institute is 1040 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Suite 200, Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561.