What Is Knee Pain?
The knee is the largest and most complicated joint in your body, consisting of four bones:
- Femur – the large bone in the thigh
- Tibia – the large shin bone
- Fibula – the small shin bone located next to the tibia
- Patella – the knee cap which is the bone in front of the knee
These bones are connected by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The knee is used to bend and straighten (flex and extend) the leg. This weight-bearing joint is the most easily injured part of the body. All actions of standing up, sitting, walking, running and so on require straightening, bending, twisting and rotating of the knee. All these motions increase your risk of getting a knee injury, especially when done in a wrong position.
Acute knee injuries are usually caused by twisting the knee or falling. Sports that involve running, jumping and sudden stopping and side-stepping at a speed, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and baseball, as well as contact sports such as wrestling, rugby and hockey exacerbate the erosion of knee cartilage and increase the risk of an acute knee injury. Prolonged walking or running with misalignment of the knee will cause further stress to the knee joint. That explains why glucosamine, if you take it, may only be of temporary relief.
Having weak leg muscles also cause knee pain as they cannot support the structure of the entire leg together with your upper body weight that is why knee pain seems more apparent in people with weight management issues. Unstable knee joints cause pain too when you climb stairs or lift your knee as the ligaments are weak and cannot stabilize your legs in motion. Most of the time, you will feel the pain below the knee, at the back of the knee or on the inner or outer side of the knee, depending on which supporting muscles are weak.
The way we walk and the position of our feet and ankles have a profound effect on our legs, knees, hips and lower back. While the foot arches are spread to take in the impact when the foot lands during walking, your ankles tend to roll inwards. This is called over-pronation. When your ankle is rolled inwards; the lower leg is forced to rotate. Since the knee is not designed to rotate, over-pronation places abnormal stress on the knee joint and results in poor knee functioning. This will inevitably lead to excessive wear and tear to the knee cartilage, causing long-term damage and chronic pain.
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