Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, My Aching Knees!

Do your knees ache and bother you? Have you seen your doctor yet, or are you holding off because you're afraid the only answer is surgery? Well, fear no more, and head in to your family doctor! The vast majority of knee pain that we see in primary care is not a blown-out knee with surgical needs, but more chronic use/overuse injuries and knee cap tracking issues.

Adolescents during growth spurts can develop pain just below the knees that comes and goes, and is worse with squatting, using stairs, or jumping-all these activities put strain on the site where the patellar tendon attaches, and can cause a condition called Osgood-Shlatter's lesion. The treatment here is REST, not surgery...though many sports-minded adolescents WISH the answer was a quick surgery!

Women of all ages (more than men, but not exclusively) are prone to a condition called chondromalacia, where the under surface of the knee cap begins to look like crab meat- all flaky and ragged, instead of polished and smooth. What are the symptoms? Pain in the front of your knee, especially after prolonged sitting, is the classic one, sometimes referred to as the "theatre sign". The noninvasive treatment for this is physical therapy and home exercises to build up the medial quads, such as straight leg lifts.

Of course there are numerous tendon strains, cysts, and inflammed bursas (the bags of fluid that cushion between the bones and ligaments.) Most of these respond to anti-inflammatory medicines and physical therapy, or possibly a simple drainage procedure done quickly in the office.

Finally, let's not forget the mature knee, that is aching and stiff from arthritis. Yes, surgeries can help, but they are not the only solution we have to offer! Again, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory pills, or different types of simple injections into the knee joint with either steroid or other therapies.

BOTTOM LINE: Don't suffer in silence (or whine loudly to your family and friends) if you have knee pain for fear the only answer is surgery- go see your family doctor, sports medicine doctor, or local orthopedic MD and find out your options!

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