Knee Pain Basics
Knee pain is among the most common types of physical pain, and the most persistent. Usually this kind of pain is minor, but can become more severe if left untreated. According to the Mayo Clinic, knee pain can generally be classified into a few major categories, including injuries and medical conditions. Two of these—a torn meniscus (injury) and arthritis (medical condition)—can present similar symptoms, such as stiffness and joint pain. However, although they may seem similar, the treatment for these afflictions are quite different. It’s important to know the difference between a torn meniscus and arthritis if you want to properly treat and resolve your knee pain. At 3D Sports Medicine, our orthopedic services include a wide range of treatments for traumatic knee injuries and conditions, including cutting-edge surgeries that can only be performed by Dr. Dominguez.
Arthritis: Symptoms & Treatment
Arthritis is defined by OrthoInfo as “inflammation in one or more of your joints.” Knees are particularly susceptible to arthritis because we use them so often to walk, climb, and generally move around. Arthritis is an extremely common cause of knee pain – one in five people suffer from it in some part of the body.
Unlike physical injuries, arthritis is not linked to a single traumatic event (such as a sprain or break), and usually develops slowly. It also tends to become more painful with time, unless properly treated, and cannot be completely cured. The primary symptoms of knee-related arthritis include swelling, stiffness, joint pain, and difficulty walking or climbing. To diagnose knee arthritis, we perform a variety of physical tests to differentiate it from other causes of knee pain, then move on to X-Rays to examine the joint structure of your knee.
Because arthritis is such a common and wide-varied condition, there are naturally a broad range of treatment options. For more minor instances of knee pain related to arthritis, the most common treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and increased exercise of the knee. Should the more conventional treatments not provide the knee pain relief you need, Dr. Dominguez might suggest the A2M injections, or a partial or full knee replacement, using the latest in Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery technology.
A simple test performed by Dr. Dominguez can help determine if you are a good candidate for Alpha2Active (A2M) therapy. A2M is a naturally-occurring molecule found in your blood. It acts as a powerful protector against cartilage breakdown by inhibiting the actions of proteins that damage joints and can cause inflammation. Similar to a Venus Flytrap, A2M captures these destructive elements in it’s two binding sites and eliminates them through your body’s natural processes.
In terms of preventative care, Dr. Dominguez is the only certified doctor in Brevard County to perform Autologous Chondrocyte Implementation, a cartilage restoration surgery which may help to slow or prevent the development of arthritis in the knee. For more information, see our Joint Replacement and Orthopedics pages.
Torn Meniscus: Symptoms & Treatment
The meniscus is located between your tibia and femur bones, and is comprised of cartilage that enables the bones and joints to move together without pain. The meniscus is particularly vulnerable to sports-related injuries, such as football and tennis, and over 500,000 people tear their menisci every year. Tears can also be related to age, since the meniscus weakens over time, and are common in people over 30. However, as more and more children play sports (see our Youth Sports post for more details), torn menisci are becoming more common in young people as well.
Like arthritis, a torn meniscus often has symptoms including stiffness, swelling, joint pain, and weakness in the knee making it hard to walk. However, unlike arthritis, a torn meniscus is usually linked to a specific injury and is therefore treated differently. Knee pain related to a torn meniscus is sharper than the dull pain associated with arthritis, and develops quickly rather than slowly over time. When diagnosing arthritis or a torn meniscus, we take into condition your age, lifestyle, and the manner of your knee pain.
Knee injuries like a torn meniscus are most often treated using the common RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), alongside anti-inflammatory medication or physical therapy. Unlike arthritis, more extreme surgeries such as knee replacement are usually unnecessary for a meniscus tear.