It is almost time for the most wonderful time of the year and everything is set; your bags are packed, everyone woke up right on time for the flight, and everything is just in the spirit of the holidays.
Just when you’re about to lock up and hop on to your ride, you suddenly fall for an agonizing reason and find it hard to get up. That’s when you realize you have been visited by the curse of the joint pain; and the worst part? It had to be on your knees of all places.
Pain in the knees, unlike the other joint pains, can leave you severely disabled if caused by a major reason. It poses a great threat to your health and the perfect holiday you’ve worked so hard to plan.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through the things you need to know about your condition, such as its symptoms, causes, and how you can prevent further injuries so you can go back to the holiday of a lifetime.
Symptoms of Knee Pain
Here are some of the signs you need to look out for when experiencing knee pain. The location and severity of knee pain may vary, depending on the cause of the problem.
The signs and symptoms that sometimes accompany knee pain include:
- Swelling and stiffness
- Redness and warmth to the touch
- Weakness or instability
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
When should I contact a doctor?
You should contact your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- If you can't bear weight on your knee or feel as if your knee is unstable (gives out)
- When the knee is swelling
- When you are unable to fully extend or flex your knee
- When you see an obvious deformity in your leg or knee
- When you have a fever, in addition to redness, pain, and swelling in your knee
- When you have severe knee pain that is associated with an injury
A knee injury can affect any of the ligaments, tendons, or fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that surround your knee joint as well as the bones, cartilage, and ligaments that form the joint itself.
Some of the more common knee injuries include:
All the lovely bones in our body are not invincible. The bones of the knee, including the kneecap (patella), are no exception and can be broken during motor vehicle collisions or falls. People whose bones have been weakened by conditions such as osteoporosis can sometimes sustain a knee fracture simply by stepping wrong.
An ACL injury is particularly common in people who play basketball, soccer, or other sports that require sudden changes in direction. An ACL injury is a tear of a ligament known as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).This ligament is one of four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone. This injury is not influenced by age, as it happens to even the youngest of people.
Basically a shock absorber, the meniscus is formed of tough, rubbery cartilage and absorbs the force exerted between your shinbone and thighbone. It can be torn if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it.
Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae, the small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint.
Runners, skiers, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities are usually the ones that may develop inflammation in the patellar tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh to the shinbone.
This is known as Tendinitis, an irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bones
This usually occurs when the individual has a past injury or bone condition. Injury or degeneration of bone or cartilage can cause a piece of bone or cartilage to break off and float in the joint space. This may not create any problems unless the loose body interferes with knee joint movement, in which case the effect is something like a pencil caught in a door hinge.
Iliotibial band syndrome
Distance runners and cyclists are especially susceptible to iliotibial band syndrome. This occurs when the hard band of tissue that extends from the outside of your hip to the outside of your knee (iliotibial band) becomes so tight that it rubs against the outer portion of your femur.
This happens when the triangular bone (patella) that covers the front of your knee slips out of place, usually to the outside of your knee. The kneecap, in some cases, may stay displaced and you'll be able to see the dislocation.
Hip or foot pain
You may have to change the way you walk to spare these painful joints if you have hip or foot pain. However, this altered gait can bring more stress to your knee joint. In some cases, problems in the hip or foot can cause knee pain.
Ah, arthritis. We’ve heard this word before at least once in our lives. It is a condition that is usually associated with old age. This condition can affect any of the joints in the body.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis that exist. The types that are most likely to affect the knee include:
Osteoarthritis is the one you’ll most likely bump into on this list. Sometimes called degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage in your knee deteriorates as you get old and as you use it.
This type of arthritis is the most annoying and the most debilitating form of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect almost any joint in your body, including your knees. Despite being a chronic disease, severity varies from person to person and may even come and go.
What do you get when uric acid crystals build up in the joint? An irritating little devil called Gout. While gout most commonly affects the big toe, it can also occur in the knee.
Pseudogout is a clone of gout. Pseudogout is caused by calcium-containing crystals as opposed to uric acid. These develop in the joint fluid. Knees are the most common joint affected by pseudogout.
Sometimes your knee joint can become infected, leading to swelling, pain, and redness. Septic arthritis often occurs with a fever, and there's usually no trauma before the onset of pain.
Septic arthritis can quickly cause extensive damage to the knee cartilage. If you have knee pain with any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Other Knee-Triggering Problems
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
This is the pain you feel right between the kneecap and femur (thigh bone). It commonly occurs in an active individual like an athlete especially one that has a slight maltracking of the kneecap or an old-timer that has arthritis of the knee cap
May it be bad habits or just bad luck, several factors can increase your risk of having knee problems, including:
Not getting some cardio time can be dangerous. Being overweight or obese increases stress on your knee joints, even during ordinary activities such as walking or going up and downstairs. It also puts you at an increased risk of osteoarthritis as this makes the degenerating process of your joints a lot faster.
Lack of muscle flexibility or strength
A lack of strength and flexibility can increase the risk of knee injuries. Strong muscles help to stabilize and protect your joints, and muscle flexibility can help you achieve a full range of motion. A couple of days working those bench presses and squats can do wonders.
Certain sports or occupations
Some sports put greater stress on your knees than others. Alpine skiing with its rigid ski boots and potential for falls, or basketball's jumps and pivots. The repeated pounding your knees take when you run or jog all increase your risk of a knee injury. Jobs that put constant stress on the knees such as construction or farming also can increase your risk. It’s probably best to take it easy once in a while.
Having a previous knee injury makes it more likely that you'll injure your knee again.
Not all knee pain is serious. But some knee injuries and medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, can lead to increasing pain, joint damage, and disability if left untreated. And having a knee injury — even a minor one — makes it more likely that you'll have similar injuries in the future.
It may not always be possible to prevent that annoying ache in your knee, but here are some tips to avoid injuries and joint deterioration.
Lay off on the extra weight
Maintain a healthy weight; it's one of the best things you can do for your knees. Every extra pound puts additional strain on your joints, increasing the risk of injuries and osteoarthritis. Go for morning runs or try cycling to help you shed a few pounds in a fun way.
Be in shape to play your sport
Hit the gym and lift a few weights to prepare your muscles for the demands of sports participation. Work with a coach or trainer to ensure that your technique and movement are the best they can be.
Practice makes perfect
Make sure the technique and movement patterns you use in your sports or activity are the best they can be. Lessons from a professional can be very helpful. Practicing the basics is a bigger help than most people think.
Get strong, stay flexible
Because weak muscles are a surefire way to destroy your knees, you'll benefit from building up your quadriceps and hamstrings, which support your knees.
Balance and stability training helps the muscles around your knees work together more effectively. And because tight muscles also can contribute to injury, stretching is important. Try to include flexibility exercises in your workouts.
Keeping Your Knee Healthy Over The Holidays
Make Healthy Food Choices
Holidays are a time of big gifts and delicious food. Many people use the season as an excuse to overindulge and put on some extra pounds. This is a big no for those suffering from knee pain. It’s best to resist temptation.
Go low on the alcohol
Alcohol is that crazy cousin who is always at any party. Like food, people use the excuse of the holidays to go black-out drinking. This is where the pain kicks in as alcohol is one of the leading causes of high uric acid which then causes gout. Just drink a little or don’t if possible.
Like Kobe always says, there are no excuses. Exercising, even the simplest forms, can help your overall health as well as that pain your feeling between the knees. Find time to do some simple exercises to burn extra calories and build muscle strength.
Wrapping It Up
Using a knee pillow reduces pain or prevents it from ever occurring. It’s a smart investment to bring with you in your Holiday travels. After all, nobody wants to celebrate your Christmas leave with a bad knee and an uncomfortable back.