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Understanding Knee Pain

“Your whole life revolves around what will not hurt.” – Apryl Satterlee, Coon Joint Replacement Institute patient

Do you live that way too? When knee pain and stiffness make it hard to walk, climb stairs or get a good night’s sleep — interfering with your quality of life — it’s time to take action.

The experts at Coon Joint Replacement Institute at Adventist Health St. Helena will help you overcome knee pain, so you can get back to — and enjoy — your normal activities.

About the knee joint

Our knees take us everywhere. We need them to walk, squat and climb, to work in the garden or play a round of golf.

Healthy knee bones are cushioned by smooth, rubbery tissue (cartilage). They’re also protected by a slippery fluid that helps the bones glide against each other. Thick bands of tissue (ligaments) surround the three bones that come together at the knee joint: the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella (kneecap).

Causes of knee pain

No matter what your age or activity level, symptoms like knee pain, stiffness, tenderness and swelling are not normal. They’re signs of a problem inside the joint, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA). Also known as degenerative joint disease, OA causes joint inflammation and cartilage loss. When your knee cartilage wears away, you feel the pain of your bones grinding against each other.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). If your body’s immune system attacks your joints, it can cause bone and tissue damage that prevents your knee from working properly.
  • Injuries. Previous fractures, dislocations or other traumatic knee injuries may cause long-term cartilage damage. This increases your risk of developing OA, even years later.

If your knee pain is mild, losing weight or nonsurgical treatments may improve how you feel. But if your pain gets worse, and conservative treatments no longer help, you may need surgery. Learn more about knee pain treatments

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