The knee is classified as a hinge joint and is comprised of the bottom of the thighbone, or femur, the top of the shin or tibia, and the kneecap, or patella. A network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles hold the knee joint together and allow the knee to bend and support the body's weight. Cartilage is the smooth material that sits between the surfaces of the bones to help them glide and not rub against each other. This cartilage acts as a cushion and works together with the synovial membrane, a natural lubricant that aids in keeping the bones of the joint working together but not grinding against each other.
Like with most joint pain, the most common cause is osteoarthritis. This is a degeneration of the cartilage in the joint, which causes the two bones to rub against each other, which causes pain and will generally lead to difficulty when walking. Knee pain can also be attributed to obesity, overuse, and injury.
Depending on the severity of the knee pain, your doctor at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists may recommend a variety of treatments. Conservative treatments include the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. These medications have been proven to be beneficial in relieving mild to moderate inflammation and pain. Physical therapy may be another option that can help relieve knee pain and help build up the surrounding muscles to support the knee. Your physician may also recommend bracing the knee, rest or avoiding high impact physical activity, or corticosteroid injections into the knee joint to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling. If these conservative methods fail or the degeneration is severe, your doctor may recommend a full knee replacement or partial knee resurfacing.