For many, walking without pain equals freedom, independence, and the ability to continue doing what you love. So when you’re dealing with knee pain causes, it can really put a damper on your day-to-day activities, not to mention your mental state.
If a knee pain x-ray comes back normal, you may jump to the conclusion that it’s arthritis, a “natural sign of aging”. But there are joint pain causes other than arthritis. And contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not “natural”. It’s a sign that something else is going on.
In this article, we’ll explore knee pain possible causes and symptoms. We’ll look at what’s really happening to your knees. And we’ll explore practical steps you can take right now to start experiencing knee pain relief and regaining proper knee function.
Demystifying the Causes of Knee Pain
1. Age-related Wear and Tear
As you get older, your knee joints may start to show signs of wear and tear. This is often due to a condition called osteoarthritis. With this condition, the protective cushioning between your joints wears down. Think of it like the shock absorbers in a car wearing out over time. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in your knees.
While this is a common occurrence as you age, the rate of “wear and tear” you experience is within your control. Strategies like maintaining proper body alignment and maintaining a healthy level of physical activity can slow its progression.
Is your knee pain an inevitable sign of “natural” aging? Schedule a knee pain assessment to find out! Get a consultation plus your first treatment.
2. Overuse and Repetitive Movements
Engaging in activities that stress your knees, like running, jumping, or squatting, can lead to overuse injuries. When you repeat these movements repeatedly without proper rest or conditioning, your knee joints can become strained. This is one of the common causes of knee pain when squatting.
It’s like you’re repeatedly bending a wire until it starts to weaken and fray, eventually causing pain and inflammation.
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid these activities altogether.
Many people start an intense new exercise routine without realizing that the body needs time to adjust. Or they perform the activity without knowing the proper form. Muscles and connective tissues need time to strengthen. This is especially true as we age.
So, now what?
If you’re already experienced signs of this knee pain cause, here are some things that can help:
- Have your knees evaluated by a professional
- Get the inflammation down
- Start a home exercise routine to strengthen your lower body. Ease into this new activity.
- Consider chiropractic care to ensure spinal alignment and improve your form
3. Excess Weight
Whether you’re carrying some extra fat weight or muscle, this excess can put a significant burden on your knees, causing knee pain. Imagine your knees as pillars holding up a structure. Pillars are designed to hold up a set amount of weight. When you add too much weight to the structure, the pillars can start to buckle under the pressure.
Similarly, the excess weight stresses your knee joints, leading to pain and increased risk of osteoarthritis.
4. Sports Injuries
Participating in sports that involve sudden stops, changes in direction, or collisions can increase the chances of sustaining a knee injury. These injuries often involve damage to the ligaments that hold your knee together, like the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
These ligaments are like sturdy ropes that stabilize your knee joint. When they’re torn or damaged, they can cause intense pain and instability.
5. Muscle Imbalances
Your knee joint relies on a delicate balance of muscles and tendons to function properly. Sometimes, certain muscles may become stronger or tighter than others, leading to imbalances.
These imbalances can cause the kneecap to track incorrectly, leading to pain and discomfort. It’s like a tug of war between muscles, where one side pulls harder, throwing off the alignment.
Sometimes, knee pain causes back pain. Whenever you have an imbalance in one part of the body, others will try to offset it. So, they experience their own tug-of-war.
Imbalances in the spine, hips, and even the ankles can all become knee pain causes. They often need to be treated together to regain natural, fluid movement from top to bottom. That leads us to the next of the common knee pain causes.
6. Poor Posture and Alignment
Having good posture and proper alignment is crucial for maintaining healthy knees. When your posture is off, or your joints are misaligned, it can create an uneven distribution of force on your knees.
Imagine a building with a crooked foundation. The walls and floors become strained. They develop cracks. Similarly, poor alignment can put excessive stress on your knee joints. The result? Pain and potential damage!
7. Joint Inflammation
Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can lead to chronic knee pain. Inflammation is like a fire within your joints, causing redness, swelling, and pain.
Inflammation gets a bad rap. But it’s the body’s natural defense mechanisms trying to send help to your joints when it senses they’re in distress.
Unfortunately, the immune system sometimes goes into overdrive, attacking the joints by mistake. This ongoing inflammation can erode the protective cartilage in your knees, leading to persistent pain and stiffness.
Wondering that’s causing your knee pain? Schedule a knee pain assessment.
8. Meniscal Tears
A sudden twisting or turning motion can cause a tear in the meniscus. This is a rubbery cartilage that acts as a cushion between your thighbone and shinbone.
Think of the meniscus as a shock-absorbing sponge. When it tears, it disrupts the smooth movement of your knee joint, resulting in pain, swelling, and sometimes a locking or catching sensation.
If you’re wondering what causes sudden knee pain and stiffness? This could be it!
Knee pain meniscus symptoms include:
- Pain when rotating
- Pain when running or walking for a long time
- Limited range of motion
- Popping sounds during movement
- Locked knee
- Fluid on the knee
When you overuse your knees or experience direct trauma, the bursae (small fluid-filled sacs) in your knee joint can become inflamed, leading to pain and swelling. The best thing you can do is take it easy and avoid activities that worsen the pain.
But it’s also important to keep the joints moving with gentle movements so it doesn’t lock up. Guided exercises with a professional can help.
10. Patellar Tendinitis
If you frequently engage in activities like running or jumping, you might experience patellar tendinitis. This happens when the tendon connecting your kneecap to your shinbone becomes irritated and inflamed.
11. Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
Do you feel pain in the outer part of your knee? Outer knee pain causes an IT band irritation called iliotibial band syndrome.
This fibrous tissue, running from your hip to your knee, can become inflamed from repetitive friction. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help alleviate the discomfort.
12. Knee Osteochondritis Dissecans
Sometimes, a small piece of bone and cartilage within your knee joint can lose its blood supply, causing pain. Be mindful of this condition if you’re a younger athlete as its one of the more common joint pain causes among young adults. But if you engage in activities that stress your knees at any age you could develop it.
Experiencing sudden and intense knee pain? It could be gout. Gout is among joint pain dietary causes. Poor diet can cause excess uric acid crystals build up in your joints, including the knee, leading to severe pain, redness, and swelling. Too much red and cured meats are your most likely culprits but fermented foods and seafood can also contribute. All are full of purine when breaks down into uric acid.
Stay hydrated, limit purine-rich foods, and consult a healthcare professional for proper management.
While it’s rare, infections can cause knee pain. If you have an open wound, recent surgery, or notice signs of infection such as warmth, redness, and extreme pain, seek immediate medical attention. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent further complications.
15. Genetic Factors
Sometimes, genetics can play a role in knee problems and chronic pain. Inherited conditions or abnormalities in joint structure may make your knees more vulnerable to injury or degeneration.
16. Improper Footwear
Wearing shoes without proper support or an incorrect fit can contribute to knee pain. Your knees need stability and alignment. Choose shoes that provide adequate cushioning, arch support, and a comfortable fit to minimize stress on your knee joints.
17. Traumatic Injuries
Accidents happen, and direct impacts, falls, or sudden twists can cause traumatic knee injuries like fractures or dislocations. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or visible deformities after such an incident, seek immediate medical attention for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
18. Osgood-Schlatter Disease
If you’re an active teenager, you may be at risk of Osgood-Schlatter disease. This overuse injury can cause pain and swelling just below your kneecap. Resting, avoiding activities that worsen the pain, and doing gentle exercises recommended by a healthcare professional can help alleviate symptoms.
The Root Cause of Most Knee Pain
Believe it or not, the root cause of most knee pain lies in the alignment of your spine. Not all, but many of the above conditions (including those we think of as “age-related” like arthritis and chronic inflammation) start because your body’s core (the spine) isn’t on track.
Your spine acts as the central support structure for your entire body, and when it is misaligned, it can create a chain reaction of imbalances throughout your musculoskeletal system. This misalignment can lead to altered weight distribution, increased stress on your knee joints, and abnormal movement patterns, resulting in knee pain.
By addressing the root cause of spinal misalignment through chiropractic care or other therapies, you can restore balance to your body, alleviate knee pain, and enhance overall well-being
Could spinal misalignment be the root cause of your knee pain? You need to know now. Reach out to schedule a consultation.
Stop Knee Pain: How a Chiropractor Can Help
A chiropractor is a healthcare professional specializing in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, including knee pain. They use their hands or specialized tools to apply gentle pressure and manipulations to your body, helping to restore proper alignment and function.
Chiropractic Care for Knee Pain
The human body is like a complex machine with many interconnected parts. Your knees, for example, are not isolated entities but are influenced by the alignment and movement of other joints and muscles. A chiropractor looks at your body as a whole and examines how various factors might contribute to your knee pain.
Addressing Spinal Alignment
For example, if your hips or pelvis are not properly aligned, it can put uneven pressure on your knees, leading to pain and discomfort. A chiropractor can use manual adjustments to realign these areas, reducing the stress on your knees and improving their function.
Correcting Muscle Imbalances
Another way a chiropractor can help is by addressing muscle imbalances. If certain muscles are too tight or weak, it can affect the alignment and movement of your knees, leading to pain.
We all get used to doing things a certain way. And the human body naturally tries to take the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this leads to the strengthening of certain muscles while others remain weak, resulting in strain and overcompensation when you need to use that weaker muscle. A chiropractor can prescribe specific exercises or stretches to help rebalance and strengthen these muscles, supporting your knees and reducing pain.
Assessing Knee Pain Causes & If Chiropractic Care Can Help
It’s important to note that while chiropractic care can be beneficial for many individuals with knee pain, there are certain cases where it may not be the most appropriate treatment option. For example, if your knee pain is due to a severe injury, fracture, or infection, you may require more specialized medical care. A chiropractor will assess your condition and, if necessary, refer you to the appropriate healthcare professional.
Comprehensive Knee Pain Relief Strategies
Furthermore, a chiropractor can employ other therapeutic techniques to alleviate knee pain. This may include nutrition guidance, shockwave therapy, Knee on Trac, and acupuncture. These methods can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and provide relief while ongoing chiropractic visits can help your musculoskeletal system obtain and retain proper alignment.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the other Integrative health approaches your Truspine Chiropractor may recommend to alleviate knee pain. Reach out to schedule a consultation and get your first treatment.
Nutrition for Knee Pain
Did you know your eating habits can impact your knee health and pain levels? It’s true! Proper nutrition is crucial in supporting your joints and reducing inflammation, which can alleviate knee pain.
One essential nutrient for maintaining healthy knees is omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have found that Omega-3 can reduce inflammation and relieve “tender” joints. These healthy fats can be found in foods like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce swelling and pain in your knees.
Vitamin C is also important. This vitamin is known for its role in collagen formation, which is a key component of healthy cartilage. Citrus fruits, strawberries, and broccoli are excellent sources of Vitamin C.
Along the same note, the Journal of Medical Food published a systematic review of joint pain studies and controlled clinical trials involving the spice Turmeric. This spice is common in many world cuisines, including Indian, Thai, Malay, and Japanese. Adding this spice to your meals, smoothies, or coffee may support your knee pain relief goals.
Supporting Healthy Weight with Nutrition
Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition is essential for knee health. As we discussed, excess weight puts additional strain on your knees, increasing the risk of pain and conditions like osteoarthritis. By adopting a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, you can support your knees and promote overall joint health.
Working with the Truspine team, you can learn more about nutrition and stay motivated to eat foods that support healthy joints and whole body health.
Acupuncture for Knee Pain
Chances are you’ve heard of acupuncture by now. It’s an ancient Chinese practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. Believe it or not, acupuncture can actually help alleviate knee pain!
In acupuncture, the belief is that when these specific points are stimulated, it can restore the balance of energy flow throughout your body. Regarding knee pain, acupuncture can help by promoting blood circulation to the area, reducing inflammation, and triggering the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals in your body.
With that said, acupuncture works best for short-term relief. It should be combined with chiropractic care that gets to the root cause (spinal misalignment) that is likely to cause extra stress on your knees. When you realign your musculoskeletal system, you support your body’s natural ability to heal those joints for more lasting relief.
The process of acupuncture itself is relatively painless. The needles are incredibly thin. Most people report minimal to no discomfort during the treatment. Many individuals find acupuncture to be a relaxing and therapeutic experience.
Shockwave Therapy for Knee Pain
Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that can relieve knee pain. This therapy uses high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce knee pain.
When the shockwave device is applied to the affected area, it delivers controlled energy pulses. These pulses stimulate your body’s natural healing response by increasing blood flow, promoting tissue regeneration, and reducing knee inflammation.
Shockwave therapy is typically performed in several sessions, each lasting about 10-15 minutes. The number of sessions you’ll need will depend on the severity of your knee pain, your body’s response to the treatment, and how you’re progressing with other therapies like chiropractic.
One of the benefits of shockwave therapy is that it is non-invasive, meaning there are no incisions or needles involved. It is generally well-tolerated and has minimal side effects.
However, it’s important to note that shockwave therapy may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions or who are pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before undergoing this treatment.
The licensed professionals at Truspine can evaluate your condition, determine if you’re a good candidate, and provide the appropriate treatment plan for your specific needs.
Ultrasound Therapy for Knee Pain
Have you ever wondered how ultrasound technology can be used to treat knee pain? Well, wonder no more! Ultrasound therapy is a non-invasive treatment option to help alleviate knee pain and promote healing. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and medical doctors commonly use it because it works.
Ultrasound therapy involves using high-frequency sound waves that penetrate deep into the tissues of your knee. These sound waves create a gentle heat within the targeted area, promoting increased blood circulation, relaxing tight muscles, and reducing pain and inflammation.
The procedure is painless and typically takes only a few minutes. A healthcare professional will apply a gel to your knee and then move a handheld device, called an ultrasound transducer, over the area. You may feel a warm sensation during the treatment, but it should not be uncomfortable.
The benefits of ultrasound therapy for knee pain are numerous. It can help to decrease swelling, improve flexibility and range of motion, and accelerate the healing process by promoting the delivery of nutrients to the affected area. Ultrasound therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatment modalities to maximize its effectiveness.
Therapies like this temporarily provide relief, allowing you to perform manual or guided exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles and tissues for more lasting results.
Knee on Trac
Knee on TracTM is a specialized traction device that isolates the knee and takes it through targeted movements using proper. This strengthen knee tissues to support good knee alignment and retrained the knee to function more effectively going forward. Through continued treatments it can:
- Increase range of motion
- Reduce swelling
- Improve oxygen and nutrient delivery to deprived cells
- Speed the knee healing process
Get lasting relief from knee pain. Reach out to schedule a consultation with first Knee on Trac treatment.
Download our Knee on Trac Brochure.
Effective Treatment and Prevention for Most Knee Pain Causes
Remember: if you’ve had knee surgery, post-operative complications such as infections, blood clots, or poor healing can cause pain, you need medical care. Follow your surgeon’s instructions, attend follow-up appointments, and report any concerns promptly. The therapies discussed here are not an alternative to medical care.
With that said, knee pain causes are most often mechanical in nature. Fixing how your body moves can stop the pain and further damage (depending on the cause). In many cases, you won’t need surgery.
Understanding these causes of knee pain empowers you to take better care of your knees, seek appropriate treatment, and make lifestyle adjustments to prevent further discomfort.
The team of licensed professionals at Truspine would like to support you through that journey. We can evaluate if mechanical factors like misalignments, imbalances, or muscle weakness are among your knee pain causes and develop a plan to reduce the pain and keep you moving and enjoying what you love. Reach out to schedule a knee pain assessment and even get your first Knee on Trac treatment.
FAQs about Knee Pain Causes
What causes sudden knee pain and stiffness?
Sudden knee pain and stiffness can be caused by acute injuries such as ligament sprains, meniscus tears, or muscle strains.
What is the most common cause of knee pain?
The most common cause of knee pain is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that results in the breakdown of cartilage. Other common causes of knee pain include overuse injuries, ligament tears, and tendonitis. It’s important to remember that these don’t just happen. Something caused it. That something is often another cause we’ve discussed, like spinal misalignment, overuse, and underuse. Yes. Sitting and lying around a lot leads to a lot a knee pain.
Chiropractic care can reduce the pain experienced from these by getting to the root cause and helping you strengthen and align supportive structures to reduce inflammation and pain.
What causes knee pain and swelling?
Knee pain and swelling can be caused by various factors such as injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infection.
What makes your knees hurt?
Several factors can contribute to knee pain, including overuse, repetitive strain, improper form during physical activities, muscle imbalances, excess weight, or structural abnormalities in the knee joint.
What causes knee pain when bending?
Knee pain when bending can be caused by conditions such as meniscus tears or arthritis.
What causes knee pain on the side?
Knee pain on the side can be attributed to conditions like iliotibial band syndrome, lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury, or meniscus tears. A thorough evaluation can help identify the specific cause and determine if chiropractic care can reduce knee pain.
What causes knee pain when running?
Knee pain when running can be caused by several factors, including overuse injuries like patellofemoral pain syndrome, IT band syndrome, or stress fractures. Evaluating running technique (including spinal alignment), wearing proper footwear, and gradually increasing intensity can help prevent running-related knee pain.
Can knee pain be caused by obesity?
Yes, whether it’s made of muscle or fat, excess weight puts additional stress on the knee joints, increasing the risk of knee pain and conditions like osteoarthritis.
Are sports-related injuries a common cause of knee pain?
Yes, sports-related injuries, such as ligament and meniscal tears, are common causes of knee pain, especially in activities involving sudden stops or changes in direction. Your Truspine chiropractor can perform imaging tests to evaluate the cause of your knee pain and build a plan that supports your healing process.
Can improper footwear cause knee pain?
Yes, wearing shoes without adequate support or a proper fit can contribute to knee pain by altering your gait and placing additional stress on the knees.
Can knee pain be caused by muscle imbalances?
Yes, muscle imbalances, where certain muscles are stronger or tighter than others, can affect the alignment and movement of the knees, leading to pain.
Reach out to schedule a knee pain assessment and even get your first Knee on Trac treatment.