When you suffer from an acute knee injury, such as a fracture, you are likely to seek immediate medical care, but sometimes knee pain develops slowly over weeks or months. You might be tempted to ignore this type of pain.
Just because you can push through slightly nagging knee pain doesn’t mean you should. Knee pain can quickly escalate from nagging discomfort to debilitating pain, but the key to finding relief is treating the root cause of your pain.
Because knee pain can have many causes and each of those causes has unique treatment requirements, our team of providers here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center encourages you to seek medical care if your knee hurts. Treating knee pain as soon as you notice it’s a problem can help prevent a small issue from spiraling into a bigger one.
Let’s look at the four causes of knee pain that you never ignore.
There are over 100 types of arthritis, many of them can impact your knee function.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis that can contribute to knee pain. This type of arthritis is known as wear-and-tear arthritis because the cartilage in your knee wears down. As the cartilage wears down, your bones can rub against each other. You might suspect you have arthritis if your pain is accompanied by swelling and stiffness.
Arthritis may be easy to ignore at first. You may find that over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and cold/hot therapy are enough to see your symptoms. Still, over time, the condition can progress and compromise the integrity of your joint.
Taking action against arthritis can help slow the progression of arthritis and help preserve your joints.
2. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
Your ACL is one of the four ligaments in your knee, and it’s responsible for holding your kneecap and shinbone together. ACL tears are a common sports injury, and like many injuries, it can vary in severity.
While ACL injuries cause pain and swelling, you might still be able to walk with a mild ACL tear. However, if you ignore the signs of an ACL tear and walk too soon on an injury, you may inadvertently exacerbate the condition.
Bursitis is another potential source of knee pain that you shouldn’t ignore. Your knee contains many bursae 一pillow-like sacs that provide cushioning in your knee. If these sacs become inflamed, it can be painful to walk.
Untreated acute bursitis can lead to chronic pain because the inflamed bursa gradually thickens over time. Chronic pain and inflammation can also lead to muscle atrophy (weakened muscles that support your knee) if you don’t use your knee.
Tendinitis refers to an inflammation of tendons, and in the case of your knee, this means that the tendons that attach to the muscles in your knee are swollen and inflamed. Athletes, particularly runners and cyclists, are prone to this condition, and it’s critical not to ignore tendinitis.
If you ignore tendinitis, you’re at risk for developing:
- Chronic tendonitis
- A ruptured tendon (when the inflamed tendon completely tears)
- A degenerative condition called tendonosis
Seeking treatment at the first sign of trouble can help you avoid athletic performance issues later on.
Treating knee pain
To recap, ignoring knee pain can increase the risk that a temporary, acute condition spirals into a chronic, progressive condition. This not only causes more pain, but it can impact your ability to perform daily tasks, reduce your ability to participate in your favorite activities, and take a toll on the quality of your life.
Finding relief starts with an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan to target the root cause of your knee pain. In addition to recommending an anti-inflammatory diet, physical therapy, and making lifestyle changes (such as losing weight), our team offers interventional orthopedics, such as stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to help promote healing and relief from your knee pain here in both our Arlington, Virginia, or Washington D.C. locations. When you arrive, you can expect a comprehensive knee exam, a thorough review of your diagnostic imaging studies, and a treatment plan based on those results.
If you’ve been ignoring a nagging knee pain, it’s time to schedule your consultation and get to the bottom of your pain.