Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Some of the most common problems are sprained ligaments, meniscus tears, tendinitis, and runner's knee. If you have an old knee injury that wasn’t properly treated, it may flare up now and then or hurt all the time.
If you are over 50 and have knee pain, it is likely due to one of the following issues:
This condition, which frequently comes on gradually and worsens with age, involves deterioration of the knee cartilage and adjacent bone. This is the number one issue in terms of knees. It might be related to an injury that occurred when a patient was younger, but often it just occurs from aging itself. Osteoarthritis symptoms vary widely and can even come and go, but include pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving.
Meniscal tear or deterioration
The menisci, two rubbery pieces of cartilage inside the knee, serve as shock absorbers between the thighbone and the shinbone. Partial or total meniscal tears, which often result when the knee is twisted, can range from small, innocuous tears that the patient doesn't even feel to traumatic tears, say, from skiing or tennis, that cause sudden, severe pain. Symptoms include pain (particularly when the knee is straightened), swelling, occasional “clicking” or “locking” of the knee joint (caused by loose pieces of the meniscus), and difficulty squatting or getting up from a chair.
The obesity epidemic among Americans has led to a commensurate strain on our knees. Almost 40 percent of Americans are obese, meaning their BMI is 30 or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The more you weigh, the harder it is on your knees. Every extra pound on your body means 5 to 7 extra pounds on your knees.
Tendinitis or bursitis
These conditions can occur at any age, including in patients over 50. Tendinitis is inflammation of one or more of the tendons that surround the knee and that get less flexible as we age. This condition often results from sports activities, when the tendon stretches and becomes inflamed. Symptoms include pain above or below the kneecap, which typically gets worse with movement and eases with rest. Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee. Symptoms can vary, but often the affected area will be swollen and feel warm and tender to the touch.
This autoimmune disease results in the patient's immune system attacking the knee's synovial lining (which provides fluid to lubricate the joint), ultimately leading to cartilage damage. “It would be unusual to have rheumatoid arthritis isolated just in the knees,” says Nancy Carteron, a rheumatologist and associate clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco Medical School. “Usually, it would appear first in the hands and feet.” The symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling and redness, especially after sleep. The condition is treated with steroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).