Nothing puts you out of commission faster than a case of knee pain. The instance of knee arthritis doubled in Americans since 1940, and knee injuries from sports and accidents are major culprits, but not the only ones. 

Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, Dr. Jeremy La Motte, and the entire Gain Wellness Center team have treated many patients with knee pain and helped them regain their mobility and lose the discomfort. As an integrative medicine practice, we look at your health as not merely symptoms and conditions, but a snapshot of your lifestyle, family medical history, and more. 

This holistic approach leaves no stone unturned when it comes to diagnosing and treating your knee pain.

Understanding your knee joint

In order to grasp your knee’s vulnerabilities, it’s important to know what makes it unique:

  • Your knee is your biggest joint
  • Your knee is a highly complex joint
  • Your knee is a hinge joint, enabling you to move your leg backward, forward, and from side to side 
  • Your knee unites many of your leg’s components: your thigh bone, shin bone, the outer side of your shin (fibula), and your kneecap (patella).
  • Your knee is a synovial joint, which means its cavity contains synovial fluid; similar to oil in machinery, the fluid keeps your joint lubricated and protected

Ligaments are sturdy tissue bands that maintain the strength and steadiness of your knees, while cartilage is connective tissue that acts like a shock absorber between the bones in your knees. 

Root causes of knee pain

Here, we aim to share with you the most common reasons for knee pain.

1. Arthritis

Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis cause knee pain that’s related to wear-and-tear on your joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is also linked to knee pain, but it’s an autoimmune condition. 

Typically, pain emanating from either type of arthritis is accompanied by a feeling of warmth at the joint, redness, stiffness, and swelling. You may have audible symptoms, like cracks and pops in your knee when you move. The pain can also be exacerbated by physical activity. 

With rheumatoid arthritis, your own immune system turns on your knees by targeting and damaging your synovial membrane, which protects your cartilage and ligaments and makes the lubricating synovial fluid that enables ease of movement. Your synovial membrane also becomes swollen, leading to pain and limited movement.

Sustained synovial membrane inflammation harms your supportive cartilage and ligaments and opens you up to problems moving your knee and bones grinding against each other. 

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects both knees and causes similar symptoms to osteoarthritis, but also weakens your knee joint and hampers your ability to straighten your leg. 

Gout is yet another type of arthritis that causes sudden pain and inflammation stemming from excess uric acid that crystallizes in your joint. 

2. Other conditions

Non-arthritis conditions also contribute to knee pain. These include bursitis, or  inflammation of the bursae (small sacs filled with synovial fluid that surround your knee).

Small bits of cartilage or bone sometimes end up floating in your synovial fluid, which can impede proper movement and cause discomfort. Abnormal movement patterns fueled by pain can lead to joint deterioration and pain. 

3. Sports injuries

Many injuries are the result of playing sports. For example, patellar tendonitis, or “jumper’s knee,” develops when the tendon that connects to your kneecap your shinbone is injured. 

Normally, your patellar tendon works in conjunction with the muscles in the front portion of your thigh to enable jumping, running, and kicking. This problem often affects individuals who play volleyball, basketball, and other sports that require frequent jumping, though it can also strike non-athletes. 

Runner’s knee, another patellar problem, meniscus and ACL tears, fractures, and kneecap dislocation are also common sources of knee pain. 

Another injury we see frequently is iliotibial band syndrome, where connective tissue on your outer thigh and knee is damaged by overuse. With IT band syndrome, you often feel pain above your knee joint. 

4. Obesity

Being overweight or obese places great stress on your joints. Those extra pounds mean that knee pain is often inevitable. 

Our approach to treating knee pain

At Gain Wellness, your doctor does a deep dive into your history with knee pain, your overall health, and your and your family’s health history — these tell us a lot. We examine your knee and may recommend imaging or other tests. Then we can tailor your treatment to you. 

When we discover the root cause(s) of your knee pain, we may prescribe one or a combination of treatments that include hands-on physical therapy, chiropractic care, and lifestyle adjustments, such as weight loss. 

Some patients also benefit from innovative regenerative medicine treatments, where we utilize your body’s own power to heal and aim it at your knee pain. 

Call our office to schedule a free consultation, or book one online — we want to do all we can to help you banish your knee pain, no matter its source!

Author Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP, is the founder of Gain Wellness Center in San Diego, California. At the wellness center, one of Dr. Walia's, greatest goals, as a health care provider, is to provide her practice members with alternative, but healthy and safe choices that will enhance their health and well-being. She likes to motivate and educate her practice members to take charge of their health by providing them with evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions regarding their own personal health and take control of their health. Dr. Walia was born in India and raised in Canada before moving to San Diego. She attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada for her Master of Science degree with specialties in Biology and Physiology. She had various publications in research articles during her time at McMaster University funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has three kids and enjoys cooking, hiking and going to the beach with her family.

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