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Most people experience knee pain at some point during their lifetime. For some it becomes chronic and so severe that the best solution involves knee replacement surgery. Prior to choosing surgical treatment, there are conservative care options we can explore to alleviate knee pain.

At Dr. Tom Calton’s private practice, Elevate Surgical in Ogden, Utah, the care team specializes in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions involving the knee and hip.

Here are five common causes of chronic knee pain we see at our office.

1. Osteoarthritis

There are numerous types of arthritis, but one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain involves osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition more common in people aged 50 and older.

When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage in your knee joint begins to wear away. The result? Bone rubbing against bone, a painful problem that can worsen over time and limit mobility and range of motion.

recent Arthritis Research & Therapy study shows that living with knee pain that lasts a year or longer typically involves osteoarthritis.

2. Tendonitis

You have two major muscles that keep your knee working properly. On the front of your thigh, you have quadriceps that make your leg straighten. The hamstrings, found on the back, make your knee bend.

These muscles also have tough cords of tissue called tendons that connect them to bones in the joint. While strong and flexible, these tendons also take a lot of abuse on a daily basis, especially if you have an active lifestyle. When inflammation develops in a tendon from overuse or strain, you have tendonitis.

“Jumper’s knee” is a common form of tendonitis that affects the patellar tendon, often due to activities — such as basketball — which require a lot of jumping and hard landings.

3. Bursitis

Bursitis in the knee is another common cause of knee pain. This condition occurs when the small fluid-filled sacs near your knee joint become irritated and inflamed. These pockets, known as bursae, reduce pressure and friction between bones and soft tissues, such as skin, muscles, and tendons.

When knee bursitis develops, it often does so over the knee or on the inside, just below the joint. However, it can affect any bursae in the knee. Common causes of bursitis include:

  • Trauma to the knee
  • Overuse or strain
  • Frequent and persistent pressure, such as from kneeling
  • Bacterial infection
  • Obesity
  • Certain sports, such as running, wrestling, volleyball, and football

Arthritis can also cause bursitis in the knee.

4. Torn cartilage

Your knee contains two essential types of cartilage. Articular cartilage forms a protective cover on the ends of each bone in the joint. Meniscus cartilage sits in between the bones and acts as a shock-absorbing cushion.

You can experience both articular and meniscal cartilage damage in your knee because of a traumatic injury, overuse, or osteoarthritis.

5. Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is also a common cause of knee pain. However, unlike osteoarthritis, this form develops because of an autoimmune disorder.

Autoinflammatory diseases, such as RA, occur because the body misfires and attacks its own tissue. In the case of RA, that means attacking connective tissue in the knee. Signs of knee pain caused by RA include:

  • Joint inflammation
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Rheumatoid arthritis impacts 0.6% of Americans and is 2-3 times more common in women. It’s also the leading connective tissue disorder behind chronic knee pain.

As you can see, numerous problems can trigger chronic knee pain. However, there are many treatment solutions that can ease your symptoms.

To learn more about treating chronic knee pain, contact Dr. Tom Calton’s private practice, Elevate Surgical, to schedule a consultation. Call or text (801) 758-0206, open Tuesday – Friday.

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