What Causes Chronic Knee Pain?

Scenario: Your alarm goes off and you immediately wish you could stay in bed — or at least have someone help you get up. Simple tasks like walking to the bathroom and making breakfast sound like impossible feats because of your knee pain. Yet despite the pain, you’re wondering how this all started in the first place. 

Does that sound like you? 

Chronic knee pain isn’t uncommon (about 15 million Americans suffer from joint pain), but it is unusual. That is, chronic knee pain isn’t normal — it doesn’t just happen because it happens. There are underlying causes, and knee pain is the symptom. 

Our Dr. Daniel Beeson here at Beeson Regenerative Health in Portland, Oregon, explains everything you need to know about chronic knee pain and its causes. 

What is chronic knee pain?

Knee pain obviously refers to pain in the knee, but “chronic” is the true differentiator. Most people experience acute knee pain at least once, such as from a bruise, but those minor injuries go away with conservative treatment and time. 

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is defined as pain that persists for six months or longer. Chronic knee pain is persistent, long-lasting pain in the knee. This type of knee pain can come and go, or it can be present at all times. It can also include swelling and redness in the knee.

But not all chronic pain is severe. Many people with chronic pain describe their pain as a dull ache.

Causes of chronic knee pain

Chronic knee pain can affect people of all ages and backgrounds for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of chronic knee pain: 

Tendinitis: inflammation or irritation of a tendon. In the knee, this usually means the patellar tendon, and knee tendinitis is often called “jumper’s knee.”

Osteoarthritis: a degenerative disease of the joints that causes pain and inflammation. 

Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disease that eventually leads to joint deformity and/or bone erosion, and causes painful inflammation in the joints. 

Bursitis: inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs that are supposed to cushion and protect the areas between and around your joints. Bursitis in the knee is often caused by overuse. 

Gout: a disease caused by a buildup of uric acid, a waste product that your body should expel. Gout can form in any joint throughout your body. 

Infections: any infection of the knee joint can lead to severe pain that may become chronic if left untreated. 

Sports injuries: may include fractures, sprains, strains, dislocation, meniscal tears, and other injuries. If treated poorly or left entirely untreated, sports injuries can lead to lifelong pain. 

Work injuries: for workers who perform manual labor, such as construction work, the risk of on-the-job injuries is high. Work injuries include the same kinds of issues as sports injuries. 

Overuse: common in runners, swimmers, cyclers, and other people who partake in sports that require repetitive motions. Overuse injuries include tendinitis, bursitis, and stress fractures. 

Treatment for chronic knee pain

Your treatment depends on the causes contributing to your chronic knee pain. If you have a serious injury, such as a torn ligament, you might need surgery. If you have an overuse injury, such as tendinitis, Dr. Beeson may recommend lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain activities. If you have a disease or infection, Dr. Beeson may prescribe medications, lifestyle recommendations, or both.

Most of Dr. Beeson’s patients have seen success with treatments such as chiropractic adjustments, trigger point injections, massage therapy, dietary changes, acupuncture, special exercise regimens, and rehabilitation plans. 

To learn more about chronic knee pain treatment, call Beeson Regenerative Health at 971-247-1063 or stop by our office.   

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