The knee is a complex joint with many moving parts, making it very injury prone.
As we get older, the stress of everyday movements can trigger symptoms of pain in our knees.
If you notice sudden knee pain, it can be hard to know what caused it or what you should do next.
Sometimes sudden knee pain is a medical emergency that requires attention from a medical professional, while some knee conditions you can treat at home.
However, if you have sudden knee pain that turns into persistent pain, you should always see a doctor.
In the article below, we will talk about the causes of sudden knee pain to plan your next steps.
What Are The Causes Of Sudden Knee Pain?
There are several causes of sudden knee pain.
The most common are:
- ACL Injuries: Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are often sports injuries involving jumping or sudden changes in direction. These injuries typically cause instability or prevent the knee from bearing weight.
- PCL Injuries: Posterior cruciate ligament injures develop after a blow to the front of the knee and can result in significant knee pain.
- Collateral ligament injuries: These injuries often occur while playing contact sports
- Torn meniscus: A tackle, twist, aging, or a form of arthritis can damage your knee’s meniscus. You may feel your knee lock or have discomfort walking up and downstairs.
- Knee fractures: The three bones that make up your knee joint can fracture or break. The patella fractures most often.
- Knee dislocations: Dislocations of the knee joint occur when the thighbone, shinbone, and patella are out of alignment due to structural problems or injuries.
- Tendinitis: Tendinitis is Inflammation of the tendons around the joint that stems from overuse. It’s common among middle-aged athletes.
- Bursitis. Repetitive motions, like running, can cause a fluid-filled sac, called your bursae, to become irritated, painful, and swollen.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease: This is an overuse injury common in teenage boys, particularly in athletes. It can lead to soreness around the knee and pain when extending the leg.
- Osteoarthritis: Sudden knee pain could indicate the onset of osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a common type of arthritis that leads to pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, a reduced range of movement, and knee inflammation. However, the pain in your knee won’t present suddenly and instead causes gradually increasing pain levels. Arthritis develops when the cartilage protecting the joints breaks down and leaves the bones rubbing against each other.
- Runner’s knee: Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is knee pain that starts behind or around your kneecap. Symptoms include a dull throbbing behind your kneecap, especially where your knee meets your thigh bone. It can also cause your knee to pop and grind.
Sometimes, physicians cannot identify what is causing pain in your knee.
Diagnosing Knee Pain
Unless you have knee pain resulting from an accident or severe knee pain, you can wait for a few days before seeing a doctor.
Just avoid or limit any activities that cause discomfort.
The rice method, which is rest, applying ice packs, compression, elevation, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can provide relief.
If your symptoms don’t improve, you will need to see a doctor.
Visiting the doctor will begin with a complete medical history and an overview of your activity level.
Your doctor will then manipulate your leg and check for pain, tenderness, and swelling.
They also assess the range of motion.
To make an accurate diagnosis, they may also use imaging tests like -x-rays or MRIs.
What Can You Do for the Pain?
The things you can do for your knee pain will depend on your knee pain and injury.
Sharp pain and dull pain will need different treatment plans, and traumatic injuries will need different treatments than slow, gradual knee pain.
Here are a few things you can do to accelerate the healing process:
- Rest your knee and take a few days off from intense activity.
- Ice it to curb pain and swelling.
- Compress your knee with an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves to wrap the joint.
- Elevate your knee with a pillow under your heel when you’re sitting or lying down
- Take anti-inflammatory medications. These drugs can have side effects, so don’t use them long-term
- Practice stretching and strengthening exercises recommended by your doctor.
- Start physical therapy
Contact your doctor if you have tried home treatments for two weeks but still haven’t found relief.
If you get a fever along with your painful knee, go to the doctor right away.
Depending on the cause of your knee pain, you may need extra help from a doctor.
If you have bursitis, your doctor may need to draw out extra fluid from the bursa in your knee.
Or, if you have arthritis, you may need a corticosteroid shot to reduce inflammation.
Tips for Healthy Knees
There are a few things you can do to keep your knees healthy whether you are experiencing pain or not.
Keeping your knees strong year-round will help you avoid any type of pain, and it will help prevent you from suffering from the many common knee injuries.
First, exercising regularly will help strengthen your legs and knees.
You can use weights, bands, or bodyweight movements and do it at least twice a week.
You can also do things as simple as walking up your stairs, around the block, or hopping on your bicycle.
Be sure to warm up before you exercise because exercising cold increases your risk of injury.
You also need to stay flexible.
Incorporate dynamic stretches into your workouts.
When you’ve finished exercising, do static stretches,
Regularly stretch the muscles in the front and back of your thigh.
Make sure your shoes fit and that they are in good condition.
All of this exercise should also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese puts added stress on your knees, and it is a significant risk factor in developing early arthritis of the knee.
Find Knee Pain Treatment Near You
Several things can cause sudden knee pain.
If your knee pain doesn’t go away, though, you should see a doctor right away.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, complete a physical exam, and order imaging tests like x-rays or MRIs.
After they can properly diagnose your knee pain, they will discuss your treatment options.
Quick treatment can prevent a short-term knee issue from becoming long-term, chronic pain.
There’s no reason for you to suffer from chronic knee pain, especially when the Ethos Health Group is here to help.
If you want to learn more about what the Ethos Health Group can do for your knee pain, click the button below to schedule a free consultation.