What Causes Knee Pain?

Knee pain can affect people of all ages. Overuse or injury may cause your knee to hurt, such as:

  • Bursitis
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Kneecap dislocation
  • Kneecap fracture
  • Patellofemoral syndrome
  • Torn ligament
  • Torn cartilage (a meniscus tear)
  • Strain or sprain

Here are some factors that can increase your risk of knee pain:

  • Bacterial infections – People with weakened immune systems, open wounds and other conditions may be at risk of contracting cellulitis, which may affect the knees.
  • Connective tissue disorders – People with rheumatoid arthritis may also have sore knees, depending on the affected area.
  • Degenerative joint disease – Osteoarthritis can also occur in the knee and is characterized by the wear and tear of the joints.
  • Gout – Gout may be caused by genetics or lifestyle choices such as obesity, alcohol consumption and other dietary factors.
  • Obesity – Excess weight can strain the knees, resulting in inflammation and pain and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Trauma – Starting a physical activity without proper stretching can increase your risk of a knee injury. People who engage in intense sports have a higher risk of knee injury.

Some cases of knee pain may go away with rest or without medical treatment. We recommend calling a doctor if your knees are still sore after three days and you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Painful locking or clicking sounds from the knee
  • Swollen knee or severe knee pain
  • The calf below the sore knee is discoloring, tingling, hurting or swelling
  • Trouble straightening your knee
  • Unable to put weight on your knee or move it

What Is Knee Arthritis?

The cartilage provides a cushioned surface between the bones, allowing them to glide smoothly. The synovium lining the joints supplies lubrication, oxygen and nutrients to the cartilage. The knee is one of the joints most affected by osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the joints' cartilage breaks down, decreasing the bone gap. Consequently, bones rub on each other, causing stiffness, swelling and pain. Even though osteoarthritis usually affects some people 50 years old and older, younger individuals may also develop this disease. Here are some risk factors:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Joint overuse or injury
  • Obesity
  • Previous knee joint injury

Knee osteoarthritis symptoms include:

  • Knee joint becoming stiff, swollen and difficult to straighten or bend
  • Swelling and pain may be worse after resting or sitting or in the morning
  • Pain flaring up after vigorous activity
  • Crepitus or the creaking, snapping, grinding or clicking noise from the knee
  • Pain that makes knees weaken or buckle
  • Joint pain intensity may depend on the weather

How To Treat Arthritis in the Knee?

Our orthopedic doctor may recommend nonsurgical knee pain treatment:

  • Assistive devices – Using shock-absorbing inserts or shoes, a cane, knee braces or sleeves may help ease pain from knee osteoarthritis.
  • Lifestyle modifications – Reduce knee stress by switching to low-impact activities and reducing weight.
  • Medications – Your doctor will work closely with you to determine the medications and dosages that may relieve knee joint pain. Your options may include:
    • Non-narcotic, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
    • Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors
    • Corticosteroids
    • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
    • Viscosupplementation
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist may recommend specific exercise programs to increase flexibility and range of motion.
  • Other remedies – Wear elastic bandages, use pain-relieving creams or apply heat or an ice pack on the affected area.

Our orthopedic doctor may recommend surgery if nonsurgical knee pain treatment options do not improve a patient's condition. Surgical osteoarthritis knee treatments include:

  • Arthroscopy – Arthroscopic surgery may only be recommended if a degenerative meniscal tear must be treated.
  • Cartilage grafting – A surgeon takes healthy cartilage tissue from a tissue bank or another knee part to fill a gap in the damaged articular cartilage.
  • Knee osteotomy – A surgeon reshapes the thighbone or shinbone to shift a patient’s weight off the damaged side of the joint to improve function in the arthritic knee.
  • Total or partial knee replacement – Damaged bone and cartilage will be replaced with a prosthesis.

What Is Mako® Robotic Knee Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery may be an option to help alleviate knee pain. Shelby Baptist Medical Center features the Mako® robotic system, an innovative medical advancement that allows surgeons to perform knee replacement surgery. This technology enables surgeons to check the condition of a joint in detail and plan a treatment. Mako’s high-precision features can help achieve a better functioning and longer-lasting joint, reduced recovery time, less pain and shorter hospital stays.

Mako cannot perform surgery independently; instead, it has a robotic arm that surgeons use to guide and perform procedures within the surgical site. The surgeon uses a computer to control small surgical tools attached to Mako's robotic arm.

How Does a Knee Replacement Work?

Arthroplasty of the knee, also known as knee replacement surgery, may help restore mobility and ease the pain after nonsurgical procedures have been tried, but still not enough. It may be recommended for patients who have a:

  • Deformed knee
  • Moderate knee pain that persists even in rest or sleep
  • Chronic knee inflammation or swelling that medication or rest cannot improve
  • Severe knee pain or stiffness that prevents a person from performing everyday activities

With Mako total knee arthroplasty, both sides of the knee joint will be replaced. On the other hand, a partial knee replacement will only replace one side of the knee joint. After the procedure, the patient may have better movement and less pain.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Robotic Knee Replacement?

Like any knee pain surgery, a patient's suitability for robotic-assisted knee surgery may depend on their medical assessment results and other factors. For instance, some patients who have been evaluated with poor general health or at a higher risk of complications after surgery may not qualify for robotic-assisted knee replacement. Treatment options may also depend on the doctor’s assessment of the damage in your joint, loss of function and how joint pain affects your day-to-day life.

Talk to your doctor about whether Mako knee replacement surgery is suitable for you and other realistic expectations about the outcomes of this procedure. It’s important that you understand what this surgery can and cannot achieve. Your doctor may perform several tests and screenings before confirming that you can proceed with surgery. These may include a physical exam, blood tests and imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, X-ray or ultrasound.

What To Expect

  • Personalized Surgical Plan – The Mako robotic technology collects data before and during surgery that may affect the knee implant fit, enabling the surgeon to plan and carry out personalized surgery.
  • During Surgery – The Mako robotic system uses a camera and optical trackers attached to your leg, like a detailed global positioning system (GPS), to locate exactly where your knee is in space. Mako’s real-time data and your surgeon's skill help position your knee implant based on your unique anatomy.
  • After Surgery – Following surgery, you may have to stay in the hospital for up to three days based on your doctor’s recommendation and recovery plan. Although recovery varies from one patient to another, most people can drive after two weeks, garden after three to four weeks and golf after six to eight weeks.
  • Rehabilitation – A significant commitment to rehabilitation and physical therapy can help with successful recovery from robotic knee replacement surgery. The physical therapy program we offer at Shelby Baptist Medical Center aims to help patients achieve pain-free movement, function and independence.

Advanced Orthopedic Care at Shelby Baptist Medical Center

At Shelby Baptist Medical Center, we are here to help you get back your quality of life with personalized treatments with the minimally invasive Mako Robotic Knee Replacement. To learn more about our orthopedic services or find an orthopedic doctor at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, please call 833-416-1805.