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Knee Pain Overview (cont.)

Other Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment, Prognosis, and Types of Chronic Knee Pain

  • Patellofemoral syndrome and chondromalacia patella
    • Description: These two conditions represent a spectrum of disease caused by patellar mistracking.
    • Symptoms and signs: The condition typically occurs in young women and also in athletes of both sexes and elderly people. In patellofemoral syndrome, the patella rubs against the inner or outer femur rather than tracking straight down the middle. As a result, the patellofemoral joint on either the inner or outer side may become inflamed, causing pain that is worse with activity or prolonged sitting. As the condition progresses, softening and decay of the articular cartilage on the underside of the patella occurs, and the syndrome is referred to as chondromalacia patella.
    • Treatment: Home care with PRICE therapy, NSAIDs, and exercises (such as straight leg raises) that balance the muscles around the patella work for most people. Others may benefit from commercial arch supports (for the arch of the foot) or orthotic supports that correct foot mechanics and may reduce abnormal forces on the knee. Severe cases of patellofemoral syndrome or chondromalacia may be treated surgically through a variety of procedures.
  • Jumper's knee
    • Description: Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) of the quadriceps tendon at the upper point of the patella, where it inserts, or tendonitis of the patellar tendon either at the lower point of the patella, or at the place where it inserts on the tibia (called the tibial tuberosity, about 2 inches below the knee on the front side), is termed jumper's knee. Jumper's knee is so named because it is typically seen in basketball players, volleyball players, and people doing other jumping sports.
    • Symptoms and signs: Jumper's knee causes localized pain that is worse with activity. It usually hurts more as you jump up than when you land because jumping puts more stress on tendons of the knee.
    • Treatment: Home therapy with the PRICE regimen together with anti-inflammatory drugs is the basis of treatment. Particularly important are rest, ice, and NSAID drugs, which will help stop the pain and break the cycle of inflammation. After controlling the pain, you should slowly start an exercise regimen to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles and resume your sport of choice a few weeks down the line.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease
    • Description: Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most commonly in adolescents participating in sports where repetitive extension of the knee causes inflammation and injury of the tibial tubercle (of the bone itself). It can occur in nonathletes as well and is usually linked to growth spurts during puberty
    • .
    • Symptoms and signs: Children suffering from this syndrome report pain at the tibial tubercle (the tibial tubercle is the protuberant knob on the front of the tibia, a couple of inches below the knee, where the patellar tendon attaches). This pain is typically worse when extending the leg. The tibial tubercle is tender to touch and over time begins to protrude more because the chronic inflammation stimulates the bone to grow.
    • Treatment: Osgood-Schlatter disease is a self-limited condition that usually resolves as the bone stops growing with the end of adolescence (at about 17 years of age in males and 15 years of age in females). Treatment includes PRICE and NSAID therapy. In severe cases, splinting the knee for a few weeks may help reduce the pain and halt the inflammation cycle.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
    • Description: A fibrous ligament, called the iliotibial band, extends from the outside of the pelvic bone to the outside of the tibia. When this band is tight, it may rub against the bottom outer portion of the femur (the lateral femoral epicondyle).
    • Symptoms and signs: Distance runners typically suffer from this condition. These runners complain of outside knee pain usually at the lateral femoral epicondyle. Early on, the pain will typically come on 10-15 minutes into a run and improve with rest.
    • Treatment: The most important aspect of treating iliotibial band syndrome is to stretch the iliotibial band. One way to do this is to place the right leg behind the left while standing with your left side about 2-3 feet from a wall. Then, lean toward your left for 20-30 seconds using the wall to help you support yourself. In addition to stretching the iliotibial band, PRICE therapy and NSAIDs may be of some help.

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