knee pain

Frequently Asked Questions About the Knee

How to relieve knee pain?

Knee pain can be caused by a number of reasons. Identifying the cause of your knee pain is the best scenario for finding a solution for knee pain relief. For general knee pain relief, start by resting. If you have been active in sports, take a break. If you have knee pain from daily use, try to avoid stairs and minimize the amount of walking you do. Use cold therapy in the pain area to help reduce any possible swelling. When you are sitting down, elevate your knee so that it is above your heart. A good way to do this is to prop your knee up with pillows or a on the arm of a chair or sofa. Last but not least, try compression with a knee sleeve or ace bandage.

Can you dislocate your knee?

The part of the knee that can be dislocated is the knee cap or patella. Since the patella is held over the patellofemoral grove by tendons and ligaments, if there is a high-impact to the knee, the knee cap can be knocked out of place resulting in a dislocation. Learn more about dislocated kneecaps here or find a brace to support your dislocated kneecap.

Did I hyperextend my knee?

If you feel knee pain behind the knee or sides of the knee and have trouble walking or bending the knee, you may have hyperextended your knee. To rule out any ligament tears, see a medical professional. Learn more about knee hyperextension or find a brace for hyperextended knee.

Did I tear a ligament in my knee?

Immediately after a ligament tear, complaints of knee instability or buckling or giving out are common. If you have torn your ligament, you may have felt a pop when the injury occurred. Other symptoms may include swelling and difficulty walking. Your physical therapist or doctor will be able to perform tests on your knee or prescribe you an MRI to confirm your ligament tear.

Do I need knee surgery?

There are two different types of knee surgery. Knee replacement surgery is typically done for patients dealing with severe arthritis of the knee where the knee is so damaged by the pain that it is affecting your daily life. This is often a last resort and will be decided by you and your doctor. The other type of knee surgery which is more common is for repairing torn ligaments. If you have a severe tear in your ligament or multiple ligaments, it is likely that you will need surgery to repair them. Your orthopaedic surgeon will explain to you the best treatment if you have a ligament tear.

Do knee braces help?

Knee braces help in a variety of ways depending on your needs and the brace itself. There are knee braces with hinges that are designed to help protect the ligaments during contact sports. There are knee braces that are offloaders which help unload the pain and pressure on certain parts of the knee. Compression knee sleeves are ideal for keeping the knee warm and applying compression for general pain and those looking for mild support. Functional knee braces work to help provide additional support for previous injuries. Some knee braces work by helping align the patella or applying pressure in certain areas of the knee to help support and disperse the pain. Rehabilitative braces help to immobilize the knee post-surgery and allows slow, limited motion as the patient regains their range of motion.

Which knee brace should I get?

The type of knee brace you should purchase depends on a variety of things. Are you injured or do you want to protect yourself from future injuries? What level of support are you looking for? What activities are you planning to participate in? Learn about choosing the right knee brace or use our Brace Advisor to help you narrow down your choices based on your needs.

What are some knee rehab exercises?

Simple knee rehab exercises include quad stretches, tightening and releasing your quads, hamstring stretches, ¼ squats, assisted squats with exercises ball against the wall, step ups, calf raises, and more. The exercises you perform will be dependent on the type of injury you have and the pain you are experiencing. If you feel pain, stop. Seek your physician for a fully customized treatment plan for your injury.

Should I stop running with knee pain?

If your knee is feeling pain even with walking, you should take a break. Often times, runners will develop knee issues due to an imbalance in muscles from other parts of the body like in the quad, hamstring, glutes or hip. If you must continue running, try taking a short break and lower your mileage when you start running again. Always stretch, ice afterwards, and try using a brace for running to provide additional support.

What is bursitis of the knee?

Bursitis of the knee occurs when the bursa, a sac filled with fluid which helps reduce friction and helps your joints glide smoothly, gets inflamed. Find a brace for bursitis.

Where is anterior knee pain?

Anterior knee pain is located at the front, center of the knee.

Why is my knee popping and cracking when I walk or bend my knee?

General knee popping, cracking or snapping is common when people squat or bend their knee as long as no pain or swelling is associated with it. The sounds can occur through cartilage rubbing against each other.

Can I walk with a broken knee?

Depending on the severity of the fracture, you may still be able to walk.

How long can I wear a knee brace? Can I wear it all day?

Yes, you can wear a knee brace all day. If you have a particular injury or are participating in an activity or sport, you should make sure to wear the proper brace for your injury or sport. Otherwise, throughout the day, you can wear something that provides moderate support and is made with a cooler, breathable material like drytex to stay cool.

What is an ACL injury?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is probably the most commonly injured ligament of the knee. In most cases, the ligament is injured by people participating in athletic activity. As sports have become an increasingly important part of day-to-day life over the past few decades, the number of ACL injuries has steadily increased. This injury has received a great deal of attention from orthopedic surgeons over the past 15 years, and very successful operations to reconstruct the torn ACL have been invented.

What are the levels of ACL injuries?

There are 3 Types of ACL Injuries:

  • First Degree: the fibers of the ACL ligament are stretched, but there is no tear in the fibers. There is a little tenderness and swelling. Weight bearing and walking are still possible. The knee does not feel unstable or give out during activity.
  • Second Degree: the fibers of the ACL ligament are partially torn. There is tenderness and moderate swelling. Walking feels uncomfortable, and you may need to limp. The joint may feel unstable or give out during activity. It is recommended that you consult your doctor for evaluation.
  • Third Degree: the fibers of the ACL ligament are completely torn and there is usually a lot of pain at the time of tear, but decreases as time passes. There may be some swelling or a lot of swelling. The ligament cannot hold the knee in place properly and the knee feels unstable and may give out and walking is usually difficult and may require the use of crutches. This type of injury requires a visit to the doctor and may require some degree of surgery.

A knee brace for ACL protection can be an effective treatment in some individuals, but in sporting individuals knee surgery for ACL reconstruction is usually indicated to restore knee joint stability and reduce the risk of developing knee arthritis in the long term. Following ACL surgery, physical therapy rehabilitation is very important.

When should I wear a knee brace?

You should wear a knee brace if you are looking to prevent injury, feel any constant mild pain or instability, are going back to sports and activities after an old injury, think you might have injured your knee, and post-surgery.

What are the most common knee injuries?

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries - Sprain or rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, often caused by twisting the knee or an impact to the side of the knee.

Articular Cartilage Problems of the Knee - Injured areas, called lesions, show up as tears or pot holes in the surface of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones.

Collateral Ligament Injuries - An injury to these ligaments usually involves a significant force, such as a fall while skiing or a direct impact to the side of the leg.

Hamstring Injuries - Rupture or strain of the hamstring tendons as they insert into the back of the knee.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome - ITBS is an overuse problem that is often seen in bicyclists, runners, and long-distance walkers. It causes pain on the outside of the knee just above the joint.

Meniscal Injuries - In younger people, the meniscus is fairly tough and rubbery, and tears usually occur as a result of a forceful twisting injury. The meniscus grows weaker with age, and meniscal tears can occur in aging adults as the result of fairly minor injuries, even from the up-and-down motion of squatting.

OA Knee - OA is sometimes referred to as degenerative, or wear and tear, arthritis. OA commonly affects the knee joint.

Patellofemoral Problems - Alignment or overuse problems of the patella can lead to wear and tear of the cartilage behind the patella. This produces pain, weakness, and swelling of the knee joint.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries - The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of the less commonly injured ligaments of the knee. The most common way for the PCL alone to be injured is from a direct blow to the front of the knee while the knee is bent.

To learn more about the knee and other common injuries, visit our guide to knee pain.