Imagine that bridge you and a thousand others walk over every day to work and one fine day, you think you heard a cracking sound followed by a laborious moan while walking on it. Never mind, you say to yourself and keep going. Few days later, suddenly, you notice some cracks beneath your footsteps right at the joints of the bridge. And then, one morning you find out, it has collapsed due to failure to withstand the wear and tear happening all through those years! You can’t help groan and with a heavy heart…wait what? This is crazy! It’s just a bridge, a non-living thing!
But, now replace that non-living thing with your legs right there in that spot, the obvious joints in your legs being the knees. Yes, pretty much human and a living thing now, ain’t it?
So, a little bit of self-awareness and enlightening definitely saves the day or the knees rather. Here are some quick facts about knee function and its joints.
The knees are one of the larger joints in the body, supporting its entire weight. It is a hinge joint, like that of a door, capable of moving only forward and backward. Attempts to force a door to move sideways or push it open in wrong direction will give unwanted results. The same holds true for your knees. Coming to the nitty-gritty’s, the knee joint is composed of three bones, the lower end of the femur and the upper ends of the tibia and fibula, articulating with one another.
In a lifetime, the knee joint functions over and above its capacity and undergoes constant wear and tear as we perform our daily routine activities – walking, climbing stairs, sports as well as exercising. Over time, this may lead to knee pain and most people do experience it more than once in their life.
The degree of the pain can vary from severe to a constant but tolerant one – for some, it hinders day-to-day chores & activities and for others, it’s quite a let-down to lead a much desired active lifestyle, especially sports enthusiasts.
Pain in the joint can be acute and occurs owing to injury, infection, age or overuse related degeneration. Dislocation and injuries are more commonly faced by the youth, particularly while playing basketball and football.
From the scientific POV, the cartilage holding the knee bones breaks down, exposing parts of the bone underneath. The raw nerves protected by cartilages are exposed and this becomes very painful. Bits of broken cartilage can get trapped in the joint. When that occurs, knee movement can result in sudden pain and the joint can get locked.
Body weight is an important factor to be considered here. The two knees support the weight of the entire body between them. The bones are physically capable of supporting only a certain amount of weight. Obesity causes the knees to degenerate rapidly. Depending on gait and posture, one side may wear out faster than the other. The entire joint may be swollen and may make walking painful. At times, instead of the whole joint, the area near patella gets worn out and irregular. As that rubs against the bones underneath, there is terrible pain in movement.
As far as age is concerned, as a factor, children seldom develop knee pain unless an injury or a fracture. In elderly, arthritis can produce a similar picture and although gout being one of its form, usually affecting the big toe, can present itself as a painful knee joint. High uric acid levels cause this and it may be worth checking the levels in the body.
Besides getting x-rays and other examinations done and consulted upon for chronic knee pain, it is also important to ponder upon other basic aspects of living space/job/lifestyle which could be huge contributing factors in the bad shape of your hurting knees.
Questions like how often do you carry load – bag, piles, etc? If so, how heavy is it? Do you carry a child for long periods – how big is the child? Does your daily routine include climbing a lot of stairs on and off? Do you run/jump to get into a bus or train? What form of exercises form part of your daily activities and for how long, often? Do you squat or stand a lot at work or home?
90 percent of how your knees feel and heal depends on this introspection and finding answers to these vital daily life components and discussing with your doctor leads a speedier accurate way to recovery.