Dr. Beavers is an orthopedic surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having pain in a joint, torn or sprained a ligament, or have broken a bone contact his office for a consultation.
The knee is among the most vulnerable parts of the human body.
As a complex joint, it’s not just the bones (kneecap, femur, and shinbone) that are prone to injury, but the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage as well.
Knee injuries and other sources of knee pain are especially inconvenient because we rely so heavily upon our knees for everyday movement and activities, including those as basic as walking or standing up from a sitting position.
No matter the specific cause of your knee pain or related issue, an orthopedic specialist can help diagnose and treat the problem.
Using a variety of techniques, including pain management, physical therapy, and sometimes knee surgery, an orthopedic doctor will help determine the best course of action for you.
Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth Knee Doctors
Common Causes of Knee Pain
A variety of diseases, injuries, and other conditions contribute to knee pain.
But despite the large number of ways knee pain can occur, there are a few common causes that lead to the vast majority of knee pain people experience.
These common causes include:
- ACL Tear – A tear of the ligament that connects the femur to the tibia at the knee.
- LCL Tear – A tear of the ligament that connects the femur to the fibula at the knee.
- MCL Tear – A tear of the thick ligament running along the inside of the knee from the femur to the tibia.
- PCL Tear – A tear of the ligament (similar to ACL) that connects the femur to the tibia.
- Meniscus Tear – Torn tissue in the knee, typically caused by twisting or rotation.
- Osteoarthritis – A form of arthritis, often caused by aging, highlighted when the connective tissue between bones wears down.
- Kneecap Dislocation – Often caused by a traumatic impact, dislocation is when the kneecap slips sideways out of the knee.
- Patellar Tendonitis – Damage caused to the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap to the tibia.
- Fracture – A break in the kneecap or the leg bones near it.
Symptoms of Knee Problems
The symptoms of knee problems are straightforward.
First and foremost is knee pain. Severe pain or prolonged knee pain that doesn’t resolve on its own in a day or two is the major cause for concern.
Other symptoms of knee problems include:
- Limited Movement
- Loss of Range of Motion
- Popping or Crunching Noise
- Swelling Around Knee
- Weakness or Instability
Notice any of these symptoms and it’s important to have your knee checked out by your primary care doctor or an orthopedic specialist.
Knee Pain Risk Factors
Anyone can injure their knees. But certain people are not only more at risk for knee injury, but also diseases and conditions that cause knee pain.
These risk factors include:
- Aging – The risk for knee injury and disease, especially osteoarthritis, increases as you age.
- Obesity – Knee pain is a common complication of obesity. Even just being overweight increases your risk.
- Lifestyle – Sports injuries are a common cause of knee pain. The same goes for jobs that require long hours of standing, frequent bending or lifting heavy objects.
While some of the risk factors for knee pain are unavoidable, like aging, others, such as obesity, can largely be mitigated by lifestyle changes and other preventative measures.
Non-Surgical Knee Treatment
An orthopedic surgeon will start most knee pain treatment plans with a conservative approach full of non-surgical techniques.
Non-surgical knee treatment includes:
- RICE – Short for rest, ice, compression, and mobilization.
- Pain Management – Consists of medications and injections (such as cortisone).
- Immobilization – The knee is braced with a bandage or brace. Alternatively, weight is taken off the knee with crutches.
- Physical Therapy – Helps restore knee function, flexibility, and strength.
Typically, it’s only after these non-surgical treatments have been tried or considered that orthopedic surgery or knee replacement are recommended.
Surgical Treatment for Knees
Knee surgery isn’t a one size fits all procedure.
Your orthopedic specialist will evaluate your specific condition, as well as the success of other non-surgical treatments, to create a surgical treatment plan.
Nowadays, most knee surgery is minimally invasive. Most orthopedic surgeons use arthroscopic surgery techniques to repair the issue while minimizing recovery and rehabilitation time.
Sometimes, however, open knee surgery is still required, because of just how many different components and structures there are in the knee.
Among the many different types of knee surgery offered by orthopedic surgeons, there are:
- Arthroscopic Knee Replacement – A minimally invasive procedure used to treat minor injuries and diagnose major injuries.
- Partial Knee Replacement – A few components of the damaged knee are replaced.
- Total Knee Replacement – The majority of the knee is replaced, especially cartilage in the knee.
- Revision Knee Replacement – The replacement of any parts of an original knee replacement that have worn out.
Your orthopedic surgeon will select the best knee surgery to not only alleviate pain and return normal function but also to get you home as quickly as possible after the surgery.
What Happens After Knee Surgery?
Surgery is always intimidating – especially when it’s a body part you rely on as much as your knee.
Fortunately, for many knee surgeries, patients are able to return home the same day as the procedure. This is particularly true of partial knee replacement.
More complex surgeries, like a total knee replacement, don’t always require a hospital day, but a short hospital stay is relatively common.
In most cases, healing from a knee surgery takes about three months. However, even after this healing period is up, it’s important to spend time rehabilitating your knee before jumping straight into your old lifestyle.
Proper rehabilitation is especially important for athletes, those with physical jobs, and others that perform physical activities more frequently or at a higher intensity than normal.
Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of knee pain.
Not only does a healthy weight minimize knee injuries, but it also reduces everyday wear and tear placed on the knees over the years.
In particular, a healthy weight greatly reduces the risk of osteoarthritis, according to the John Hopkins Arthritis Center.
When Do You Need to See an Orthopedic Specialist?
Sometimes with knee pain, as with any type of musculoskeletal pain, it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor.
While it’s always better safe than sorry, you absolutely need to seek medical treatment if your knee pain is severe, doesn’t go away after a few days, limits movement and range of motion or the injury itself is accompanied by a popping noise.
An orthopedic specialist is best suited to diagnose, evaluate, and treat your knee pain or problem for the quickest, most efficient recovery and rehabilitation.