You used to jump out of bed in the morning and land on knees that were ready to carry you through your day without complaint. These days, there's less jumping and more aching in these large joints, and you want to figure out why.
Well, a great place to start is with the three knee conditions that the highly experienced orthopaedic team here at Western Orthopaedics outlines below.
1. Osteoarthritis of the knee
When it comes to knee problems, osteoarthritis (OA) is a good place to start because it is, far and away, the leading driver of achy knees.
About 1 in 4 Americans has some form of arthritis that’s been diagnosed by a doctor, and OA leads the pack, affecting more than 32.5 million people in the United States.
Diving further into the numbers, we find that the knees are the joints that are most commonly affected by OA and that the prevalence of knee OA has doubled since the mid-20th century, largely due to increasing life expectancies and overall increases in body weight.
Putting the numbers aside for a moment, let’s take a look at how OA leads to achy knees. This form of arthritis is called a wear-and-tear disease and occurs when protective cartilage inside your knees begins to break down over time, leaving the bones in your knees to rub together. This friction leads to pain, inflammation, stiffness, and bone spurs, all of which equals achy knees.
Another issue that can lead to chronically aching knees is tendonitis. Tendons are soft, but tough, tissues that connect bone to muscle. In each knee, you have the quadriceps tendon, which attaches the quad muscles in your thigh to your kneecap. Then, you have the patellar tendon, which stretches from your kneecap to tibia (shinbone).
With tendonitis, you incur damage to these connective tissues because of overuse and stress. As a result, tiny tears develop in the tissue that lead to pain and swelling in your knee.
3. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)
The last one on our list is one that can lead to a dull pain in your knee, more toward the front of the joint. PFPS is an overuse injury, often a sports injury, that occurs when there’s damage in the soft tissues in your knee, such as in your tendons, in the fat pad behind your kneecap, or in the synovial linings of the knee joint.
Of course, there are many other roads that lead to nagging knee pain. You could suffer a ligament tear, torn meniscus, or knee sprain or strain.
The best way to find out what’s causing your knees to ache is to come see us for a full evaluation. The sooner we identify the source of your achy knees, the sooner we can get you back to pain-free movement.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of knee pain, please contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to schedule an appointment.