Little-Known Causes of Chronic Knee Pain

Apr 16, 2024
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Chronic knee pain affects every aspect of your life, and finding the root cause of the problem is the only hope for relief. Learn about the lesser-known causes of chronic knee pain and what's next in your treatment plan.

Knee pain is a real drag, especially when it sticks around for several days. Chronic knee pain describes discomfort and other symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years.

Many issues lead to chronic knee pain, including arthritis and injuries, but there are less-known causes, too. What's causing your knee pain may not be immediately apparent, but relief is available.

The Prudent Medical Providers team offers exams and treatments for various issues, including knee pain. Our three experienced nurse practitioners get to the bottom of knee pain and offer multiple therapies for long-term relief.

What is chronic knee pain?

It's common to experience knee pain after a long day on your feet – but it should go away within a few days. Knee pain that has hung around for the past week could signify a bigger problem.

Chronic knee pain is any knee discomfort that lasts more than several weeks, even with home treatment. Pain happens for various reasons, from aging to acute injuries.

The knee joint is a complex hinge joint that contains muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. When these components work correctly or sustain an injury, inflammation occurs, and pain often follows.

The severity of the problem in the knee joint dictates the symptoms you experience. Common symptoms include stiffness, pain, and swelling.

Little-known causes of knee pain

You've probably heard of ACL tears, meniscus injuries, and osteoarthritis as causes of chronic knee pain – but they're not the only issues that lead to chronic knee pain. A few of the lesser-known reasons you may have chronic knee pain include:

Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis is a problem in the knee joint, often from an infection in another body area. Food poisoning and sexually transmitted diseases are two of the causes of reactive arthritis in the knee joint.

The symptoms of reactive arthritis often include swelling and discomfort in the knee joints.

Septic arthritis

Another form of arthritis is septic arthritis, which develops when bacteria enter the joint through surgery, a cut, or an animal bite. Staphylococcus aureus is often the bacteria that cause septic arthritis.

Septic arthritis causes swelling, redness, warmth, and pain in the affected knee joint.

Still's disease

Still's disease is a condition that causes chronic knee pain in adults. It's a form of inflammatory arthritis that often causes a rash, swelling, fever, and knee pain. The standard treatment for this condition is steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Tenosynovial giant cell tumor

Another little-known cause of chronic knee pain is a tenosynovial giant cell tumor (TGCT). These noncancerous tumors grow inside the knee joint, leading to stiffness, pain, and swelling. If untreated, these tumors can cause osteoarthritis in the joint and further damage.

Synovial chondromatosis

Synovial chondromatosis is similar to TGCT, except instead of tumors, it causes cartilage nodules that affect healthy cartilage in the joint. They're noncancerous, but they cause swelling, pain, and stiffness and also lead to osteoarthritis without treatment.

There are also over 100 types of arthritis that affect the joints in your body. Any one of these types of arthritis can lead to chronic knee pain, especially without treatment.

When to see a doctor for knee pain

Chronic knee pain is a real problem, significantly when it interferes with your normal activities. The first step in treating chronic knee pain is trying to take care of it at home. You can use the following therapies to treat chronic knee pain at home:

  • Ice or heat
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Gentle stretching
  • Exercise

These treatments work best for mild to moderate knee pain. If your knee pain continues despite home care and it interferes with your life, it's time to seek professional help.

Our team carefully evaluates your symptoms to determine the root cause of your pain. We then formulate a specific plan based on your needs and the cause of chronic knee pain. A joint injection may be a great option to manage your pain.

Call us today at one of our Prudent Medical Providers offices in Tacoma or Federal Way, Washington, to discuss chronic knee pain, or request a telehealth appointment here on the website.