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Knee Pain Overview

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Anatomy of the Knee continued...

Cartilage

  • Cartilaginous structures called menisci (one is a meniscus) line the top of the tibia and lie between the tibia and the 2 knuckles at the bottom of the femur (called the femoral condyles).
  • The menisci's primary job is to provide cushioning for the knee joint.

Bursae

  • Bursae (one is a bursa) are fluid-filled sacs that help to cushion the knee. The knee contains 3 important groups of bursae:
  • The prepatellar bursae lie in front of the patella.
  • The anserine bursae is located on the inner side of the knee about 2 inches below the joint.
  • The infrapatellar bursae are located underneath the patella.

Home Care for Knee Pain

Inflammation is the body's physiologic response to an injury. In treating many types of knee pain, a common goal is to break the inflammatory cycle. The inflammatory cycle starts with an injury. After an injury, substances that cause inflammation invade the knee to assist in healing. However, if the injury and subsequent inflammation is not resolved, inflammation can become a chronic issue, leading to further inflammation and additional injury. This cycle of inflammation leads to continued or progressive knee pain. The cycle can be broken by controlling the substances that cause inflammation, and by limiting further injury to tissue.

Some common home care techniques for knee pain that control inflammation and help to break the inflammatory cycle are protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This regimen is summarized by the memory device PRICE.

PROTECT the knee from further trauma.

  • This can be done with knee padding or splinting.
  • A pad over the kneecap, for example, helps to control the symptoms of some knee injuries (an example is a form of bursitis sometimes called housemaid's knee) by preventing further repetitive injury to the prepatellar bursae.

REST the knee.

  • Rest reduces the repetitive strain placed on the knee by activity.
  • Rest both gives the knee time to heal and helps to prevent further injury.

ICE the knee.

  • Icing the knee reduces swelling and can be used for both acute and chronic knee injuries.
  • Most authorities recommend icing the knee 2 to 3 times a day for 20-30 minutes each time.
  • Use an ice bag or a bag of frozen vegetables placed on the knee.
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