There are areas of the body that you use every day without even realizing their importance. Sure, we know we need our hands and eyes, but do you ever thank your knees when you jump up to reach a shelf or take a knee to get that lost shoe under the bed? Knees, like our elbows, allow us to have a greater range of motion and to perform some of our most basic functions like walking, running and squatting. However, with all this movement, knees can take a real beating. Knee pain is one of the most common complaints orthopedic surgeons receive and because of how much we use our knees, knee pain can be debilitating with cures few and far between.
Knee pain can be the result of a number of conditions. Before we begin, some basic anatomy of the knee might be helpful in explaining these conditions. The knee is the connecting structure between the tibia and the femur bones, dependent on the fluidity and motion of certain elements, namely bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. When we do things like run or jump, our knees act like shock absorbers, taking the pressure of our movements and molding back into place. When there is pain in the knees, doctors must look at multiple possible causes and use knee MRI technology to find the answer.
In the knee, there are four crucial ligaments; anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate on the back of the knee as well as the lateral collateral and medial collateral on the sides of the knee. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that connect bones to other bones, keeping them stable. Stretched or torn ligaments are extremely painful and make it almost impossible to walk. Commonly experienced in athletes, torn ligaments require surgery and physical therapy in order to regain full range of motion.
2. Worn Cartilage
Cartilage is another kind of connective tissue in the knee but cartilage acts at the shock absorber for the different activities of the knee, protecting the bones and ligaments in the knee. We have cartilage in many different parts of the body like ears, joints, and the nose. It is a soft material that can be worn down with overuse. Professional athletes, football players and soccer players in particular, are known for worn down cartilage in the knee. The problem with worn cartilage is that once it is gone, it is gone. When people speak of torn cartilage they are usually referring to a torn medial meniscus, a band of cartilage that lies between the tibia, femur, fibula and patella.
Gout is a form of arthritis that can affect people of all ages. Uric acid fills up in the blood and then inflames the body’s joints, particularly the feet. It is very painful to perform normal everyday acts like walking or running. Often it will look like a bunion on the side of the foot except that it will be more malleable from fluid rather than bone.
Tendons attach muscles to bone or in some cases to structures like the eyeball. When they become torn or inflamed, movement is impaired. The quadriceps tendon and the patellar tendon connect the patella or kneecap, to the muscles of the leg, allowing our knees to bend and the patella, which is totally disconnected without these tendons, to move and still protect the interior of the knee.
Arthritis is a painful hardening of the joints. A common occurrence for us as we age, as the bones in the joints continue to harden, movement becomes more impaired and painful. There are therapies, prescription and holistic approaches to dealing with the condition but there is currently no cure for arthritis.
The pain you are experiencing could be any one of these conditions. Make an appointment with your local orthopedic physician about what kinds of treatments you might need to help alleviate or manage your knee pain. Most will recommend that you have an knee MRI performed in order to rule out some of these conditions because MRIs are highly accurate for examining the soft tissues of the body in great detail.
You have a choice when it comes to deciding where to have your MRI performed. For more information about MRIs at Doctors Imaging in Metairie, Louisiana, visit our MRI Service Page or call us at 504-833-8111 to speak with our office representative.