Knee Pain 101, FAQ about your knee pain

elderly man working on knee pain at singapore physio gym session

The knee joint is one of the strongest and most important joint in our human body. It allows us to move around while supporting our body weight on a daily basis. Despite it being the strongest joint, it is also a very vulnerable joint that undergoes a lot of stress from daily activities such as walking, running, lifting and kneeling. Hence it is important to react and act promptly when we start feeling strain/ discomfort in our knees.

What causes knee pain without injury/ why is my knee hurting suddenly?

Knee pain is a common complaint in people across all ages. It can start suddenly but is usually often after an injury or after a bout of vigorous exercise, especially if the person is not used to such high levels of exercise intensity. It can also start as a mild discomfort in your knee which gradually becomes worse.

There are several causes of knee pain. An overweight individual has an increased risk of knee issues. Overuse of your knee due to intense exercise or regular work requirements (squatting/ bending/ repetitive activities at work) can also trigger knee pain.

There are several types of knee problems caused by joint issues (e.g. arthritis of the knee). Issues that affect the ligaments, tendons and muscles surrounding your knee can also give rise to knee pain without you knowing. Past injuries can also cause a relapse, causing your knee to experience discomfort.

How do I know if my knee pain is serious/ when should I see a doctor for knee pain?

Whether you are an elite athlete, regular gym enthusiast or just an average person, chances are that you have experienced knee pain of some sort at least once in your life. In some cases, the pain eases after rest or icing.

However, there will be possible scenarios when the pain does not improve, or it becomes too painful for you to continue with basic activities like walking. So the big question is: When should I be concerned about my knee pain and when is it a normal part of life? Here are some tell-tale signs that your knee pain is serious.

1) Pain

You should not be too concerned if the pain worsens with a certain activity and feels better with rest. However if your knee pain is sudden and is unrelated to any activity, or if the pain has lasted for more than 48 hours, you should consider consulting a physiotherapist. It would be good to note the location of the knee pain. If the pain is deep inside the knee joint, it would be a bigger cause for concern.

2) My knee is swollen

Small amounts of swelling do occur after you have strained/ injured your knee. However, if your knee swells up significantly almost immediately after your injury, you may have possibly tore a ligament in your knee. If the onset of swelling occurs the next day, this could indicate a potential injury to the meniscus within your knee. Swelling indicates joint fluid inside your knee joint which would require medical attention.

3) My knee is locked (feels stuck)

If you find your knee stuck/ locked in one position and you are unable to move it without pain, it would indicate a possible tear of the meniscus and the fragment piece could have “floated” into your knee joint, blocking movement. Such kind of meniscus injury often requires surgery.

4) My knee is stiff!  (Loss of Range of Motion)

You might find it difficult to bend or straighten their knee, making it difficult and painful to perform basic daily activities like walking or getting up from a chair. This loss of range of motion in the knee can indicate significant swelling within the knee and if it lasts for more than 1 day, you should seek medical attention.

5) My knee feels unstable (Instability)

If you have the feeling of the knee “giving way” while trying to put weight on the knee, it could indicate a potential ligament injury within the knee as ligaments are the internal stabilizing structures of our knee especially in standing.

How long should knee pain last?

The recovery time for knee pain depends on the type and severity of the injury. Muscle and soft tissue related injuries take approximately 4-6 weeks to recover. Knee pain involving the joint / bone can take up to 3 months for the pain to subside.

How do I get rid of mild knee pain fast?

The most common suggestion would be to perform R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. You should definitely rest and stop the activity that aggravates the knee pain to allow the knee to calm down. Icing of the knee helps to numb the knee pain while compression and elevation of the knee joint helps to reduce swelling that is accompanied with any acute injury to the knee.

In summary, if you have persistent and recurring knee pain, seek help early from our Singapore physio. Early physiotherapy intervention and treatment can definitely help to contain your knee pain.  Quite often most people left it too late, which sometimes lead to the inevitable surgery.

Vanessa Goh

Principal Physiotherapist

Vanessa Goh, writes with the patients in her mind. The chatty and bubbly physiotherapist brings not only top notch physio treatment and also lots of laughter to her sessions. Happy patients recover faster, its true!
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