Knee pain can occur in all kinds of situations – for example when you get out of bed in the morning, get out of the car after a long drive, or even while you’re taking a short walk. What’s more, those who experience knee pain aren’t always aware of what’s causing it. Seemingly unexplainable knee pain is often caused by excessive or inappropriate mechanical stress brought about by athletic or professional activity, or even simply age. However, normal everyday movements can also lead to excessive mechanical stress. Sometimes people don’t realize that their knee pain has been caused by a fall or incorrect movement because they don’t notice the pain until some time after such an event has occurred. When pain only gradually becomes noticeable, and its causes are unclear, many of those affected wonder what they should do and whether they should see a doctor. In many cases, pain can be eliminated by taking measures to protect the knee for a while. Depending on the actual cause of knee pain, certain types of treatment may nevertheless become necessary. Such treatment options include pain medication, physiotherapy, and surgery. At the same time, wearing supports often helps reduce knee pain and stabilize the knee.
Causes and treatment options
Typical knee pain
Constant pain that worsens when weight is placed on the knee could be caused by wear in the knee joint. Other possible causes include inflammation or ongoing excessive strain. Older individuals often have constant knee pain that makes standing and walking a torturous experience. Anyone who experiences such constant knee pain should therefore make sure to consult a physician.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that knee pain is a signal to warn you that you need to protect your knee joint against further stress. In the case of wear, however, staying completely immobile can actually increase the level of pain, and is therefore not a suitable solution. On the other hand, remaining immobile for only an hour or so after placing excessive strain on the knees, or participating in an athletic or other activity that is gentle on the knees, can help alleviate pain. Here, use of a knee support can stabilize the knee joint and reduce the mechanical stress it’s exposed to.
Causes of Knee pain
The causes of knee pain are extremely varied.
Knee pain can be caused by, among other things:
- Injuries resulting from athletic activity or accidents (bruising)
- Inappropriate mechanical stress and excessive strain
- Inflammation (arthritis)
- Inflammation of a bursa
- Autoimmune diseases
- Metabolic disorders
Wear in the knee joint (osteoarthritis) as a cause of knee pain
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which cartilage in a joint breaks down slowly. In the knee joint, this cartilage functions as a protective layer between the thigh and lower leg bones. If left untreated, osteoarthritis can in the worst case cause cartilage in the knee joint to deteriorate to such an extent that the two bones begin to rub directly against each other. Knee pain caused by wear typically occurs after a person begins moving again following a long period of inactivity – i.e. after sitting or lying. Physicians use the term “pain on movement” if pain dissipates after the first few steps are taken. As osteoarthritis progresses, the level of pain usually increases and pain can even occur during periods of inactivity. It should be noted, however, that the progression of osteoarthritis, and the level of pain experienced, varies among those afflicted with the disease. This means that the extent to which the illness has progressed unfortunately cannot be determined by either the duration of pain or its intensity. In addition, many of those who suffer from osteoarthritis experience pain only intermittently.
Meniscal damage (meniscopathy) as a cause of knee pain
The meniscus is a two-part cartilage (each part is crescent-shaped) in the knee joint. Each knee has two menisci (medial and lateral meniscus) that either absorb or cushion tensile forces. Meniscopathy is the term used to describe meniscal damage not caused by trauma. In other words, meniscopathy refers to damage primarily caused by wear due to inappropriate mechanical stress and excessive strain over a long period of time. However, injuries such as cruciate ligament tears (post-traumatic) can also lead to meniscal damage. In addition, meniscal tears can be caused by abrupt rotational movements that occur at work or when participating in sports. Depending on whether the medial or lateral meniscus is affected, the result will be stabbing pain on either the inner or outer side of the knee joint.
Diagnosing knee pain
Because knee pain can have so many different causes, a consultation with a physician must be carried out before a diagnosis can be made. The physician will ask the patient to explain when their symptoms began occurring, how long the knee pain lasts, and what it feels like. Patients will also be asked to describe any accompanying symptoms or pre-existing conditions they may have. After that, the physician will examine the patient to determine the extent of knee joint mobility. Various movement tests can provide indications of specific injuries that may be present. In order to ensure a reliable diagnosis, these tests are usually followed by imaging procedures such as ultrasound, X-ray, computed tomography, MRI, and arthroscopy (minimally invasive examination of the knee joint).
Treating Knee pain
The most important component of treatment is to immediately alleviate pain by avoiding excessive strain and taking pain medication. Subsequent treatment is designed in line with specific causes, whereby supports and orthoses stabilize the knee joint, protect injured knees, and relieve pain.
Still, one of the first measures taken in the case of most injuries involves a tried and tested method: The patient is told to remain immobile. Physiotherapy in the form of kinotherapeutic baths and aqua aerobics may also be prescribed both before and after any potential operation. Other common treatments include electrotherapy and the application of heat or cold.
Healing support for knee joints
Medical knee supports can offer effective assistance when treating knee pain. The anatomically shaped GenuTrain® knee support relieves and stabilizes the knee joint. This support is made of a knitted fabric with an integrated ring-shaped Omega pad (functional cushion) that provides optimal relief to the joint by diverting pressure away from the kneecap to other soft tissue structures in the knee. Two nubs on the lower edge of the pad – the Hoffa pads – exert metered and targeted pressure on the infrapatellar fat pad (Hoffa's fat pad) in the knee joint, thereby providing further relief to the kneecap. In addition, integrated lateral wings on the product help relieve meniscal pain in a targeted manner.
When a person moves, the knee support acts like an intermittent compression massage unit by alternately increasing and decreasing pressure. This stimulates the metabolism and promotes the healing process.
The GenuTrain® knee support is made of a breathable knitted fabric and is comfortable to wear. It adjusts to every movement, does not constrict, and will not slip out of place. The support is also particularly soft and elastic in the sensitive area behind the knee. In this manner, the support combines optimal effectiveness with a high level of wearing comfort.