If you’re experiencing knee pain, you’re probably very aware of the fact that it can severely limit your activities of daily living. From getting out of bed to even sitting on a toilet, the experience can be excruciating.
Although pain levels can range from mild to severe, sometimes the sensation is completely unexpected; many compare this knee pain to a toothache.
But what does it mean? And why does it happen?
The Anatomy of a Knee
Knees are composed of the bottom portion of the femur (the thigh bone), the Patella (the kneecap), and the top portion of the tibia (the shin bone, or the lower leg). All of these bones are held in place by tendons and ligaments. And in between all of the bones, there is cartilage.
What Causes Toothache-like Knee Pain?
If the cartilage starts wearing out, the bones will no longer glide smoothly against each other. As a result, people experience what could best be described as a “tooth-ache-like pain”- unavoidable and particularly debilitating
So, what causes cartilage to break down?
There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common one. While it could affect any joint in the body, it most commonly occurs in the knee joints. It’s also a degenerative disease, which means it’ll eventually worsen over time.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis are hard to ignore. In addition to pain, the person also experiences:
- Grating sensation when moving the joint
- Clicking or cracking sound when moving the joint
- Stiffness of the joint
- Pain that worsens after a period of rest
- Swelling around the joint
There are several risk factors for developing Osteoarthritis. The most common include trauma to the joint, excess weight, overuse, a family history, or certain metabolic disorders.
To deal with the pain, your medical provider may prescribe pain medication. However, managing weight and incorporating regular exercise are lifestyle changes that are essential to keep the pain at bay long-term.
If conservative treatment doesn’t produce any results and the pain is significantly interfering with your ability to conduct your regular life, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.
The name of the cartilage in your knee is the meniscus. If you experience blunt trauma or twist your knee joint in a pivoting motion, you could end up with a meniscus tear.
When you experience this type of injury, you’ll notice the following symptoms:
- Popping sound
- Inability to straighten the injured knee
- Feeling like your knee is locked in place
- Your knee gives out on you
- Painful to the touch
Although the risk is higher for athletes, it’s also possible to tear a meniscus from squatting or picking up heavy loads too quickly or with incorrect form.
A meniscus tear can be treated at home with the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, and elevate). Your doctor will also likely recommend strengthening exercises or physical therapy, since making your leg muscles surrounding the joint stronger will ease the stress on your affected knee.
If this type of conservative treatment doesn’t help you improve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend minimally-invasive surgery as a last resort.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At the Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from knee pain, let us help you get back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.