Utah Knee Pain & Treatment
Anatomy of the knee
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. The knee's main movements are flexion (bending), extension (straightening), and twisting. There are four bones that make up the knee; the femur, the patella (knee cap), the tibia, and the fibula. Quadricepses are the muscles that support the front of the knee while the hamstring supports the back. These bones and muscles are all linked together through an intricate assemblage of tendons and ligaments.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) prevents the femur from moving backwards onto the tibia, while the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) keeps the femur from slipping forward. The knee joint is also supported by the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. The meniscus is tissue that creates an ease of movement between the femur and the tibia. There is also cartilage behind the patella and the whole knee is surrounded by fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which cushion the knee.
What causes knee pain?
Because the knee is flexible and so important for the majority of daily activities, a knee injury can be very disabling. One of the most common injuries to the knee takes place in the ligaments (especially tears to the ACL or the PCL) as a result of twisting. Some characteristics of a ligament injury include a "popping" sound, a feeling that the knee is going to "give way," and the immediate inability to bear weight on the limb with the affected joint. With the tear of a ligament, surgery often becomes a necessity. Twisting can also injure tendons or meniscus, which causes pain, swelling, and difficulty straightening out the leg.
Knee pain can also be a result of deterioration. Osteoarthritis is considered a normal wear and tear condition in which the cartilage wears away from the joint as we age. Without a cartilage cushion, the knee joint can become a great source of pain. Chondromalacia patella is also considered to be a type of degeneration, and usually means that the cartilage behind the patella is also deteriorating.
Utah Knee Pain Treatment
It is important to have knee pain properly diagnosed before an effective treatment plan can be established. A doctor will likely order a knee MRI in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, there are a number of routes that could be taken, but any of a number of injections will often alleviate pain. A corticosteroid injection directly into the affected joint often brings considerable relief to a patient by reducing inflammation and pain. Viscosupplementation provides lubrication to joints when degeneration has caused significant pain. Nerve blocks are often effective also, especially in patients who have had total knee replacement.
Other possible treatments include, chiropractic therapy, gait analysis, bracing, and the application of a TENS unit. Physical therapy often helps by strengthening the muscles supporting the joint. Ice therapy is another common treatment because it reduces swelling and inflammation in joints. Anti-inflammatory medication is the most common pharmaceutical route to take, but it's also possible that a doctor will prescribe neuropathic medications or opioid medication in the case of acute knee injuries.
With an acute knee injury, surgery is often the only effective option. A pain specialist might suggest a spinal cord stimulator for maximum relief. A spinal cord stimulator trial will be administered and worn to see how effective it is at relieving pain (by interrupting pain signals with electric stimulation). If the trial is successful, then the option of permanent placement of a stimulator into the epidural space in the spine will be recommended.
For more information on how Omega Interventional Pain can help treat your knee pain, please contact us at 801-261-4988.