Coping with Chronic Knee Pain: Pain Specialists in Edison, NJ
Let’s Talk About Joint Pain
First of all, what are joints? They are the areas where two or more bones meet—in most cases, to allow movement of body parts. Joint pain is a discomfort, ache, or soreness that can range from mild to severe. Either way, it is almost always uncomfortable and can affect your daily life.
Even though joint pain is quite common and is not usually severe, the cause should be identified and treated to avoid further problems. At Premier Pain Clinics, our main goal when treating chronic joint pain is to significantly improve our patients’ quality of life. If you are experiencing persistent knee pain or any type of joint pain, our specialists in Edison and other NJ locations can help. Leave us your information below and we will contact you to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.
The Different Types of Joints in Your Body
There are three main types of joints, categorized by the amount of movement they allow:
- Synarthroses (immovable): Fibrous joints between two or more bones that are in close contact but have no movement. One example is sutures, which are joints found in the skull.
- Amphiarthroses (slightly movable): Cartilaginous joints found between two or more bones that are held together so tightly that only limited movement can occur; for example, the vertebrae of the spine.
- Diarthroses (freely movable): Also called synovial joints; they have a substance called synovial fluid which helps with lubrication and allows for smooth movement. Most joints in the body are synovial joints.
Characteristics of synovial joints
Synovial joints are the most common type of joint in the body. They are characterized by having a fluid-filled space called a joint cavity, which is the point where the surfaces of the bones connect.
The walls of the joint cavity are made of the articular capsule, a fibrous connective tissue structure that is attached to each bone and surrounds the joint. The articular capsule is lined with a thin synovial membrane, which contains synovial fluid. The synovial fluid is what cushions the bones of the joint and reduces friction between them, allowing mobility.
Additionally, the articular surfaces of the bones are covered with articular cartilage, which allows them to move smoothly against each other.
There are six types of synovial joints:
- Hinge joints: They allow two bones to open and close in one direction, along a plane. These include your knee and elbow joints.
- Ball and socket joints: These types of joints involve the rounded head of one bone sitting in the cup of another bone, allowing movement in all directions. Some examples are your shoulder and hip joints.
- Saddle joints: They allow movement back and forth and from side to side, but not rotation, such as the joint located at the base of your thumb.
- Condyloid joints: They also allow movement without rotation, such as in your jaw or finger joints.
- Pivot joints: These joints enable one bone to swivel around a ring formed by another bone. An example is the joint between the first and second vertebrae in your neck.
- Gliding joints: Also called plane joints. They allow limited movement, specifically for smooth surfaces to slip over one another—for example, your wrist joints.
Why Do Your Joints Hurt?
Joint pain is not uncommon at all, and it is more likely to happen as you get older. It is one of the conditions we treat most often at our Edison pain management centers. Joint pain can vary in intensity and duration, and while in some cases it hurts only with certain movements, in others it can be severe and constant.
There are many different conditions that can cause joint pain, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Bursitis (the inflammation of bursae, which are fluid-filled pads that cushion the joints)
- Gout (a type of inflammatory arthritis that results from a buildup of crystals from the body in a joint)
- Viral infections
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common chronic joint conditions. It is a degenerative disease that causes a breakdown of the cartilage that covers the bones, which makes them rub together. This causes inflammation and makes the joints become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million adults in the United States.
OA typically affects the hands, knees, hips, lower back, and neck, although it can affect any joint. It is more common in people over the age of 50, but can also affect younger people, especially if they’ve previously suffered a joint injury. The joint damage can develop over time, but a past injury can make it progress a lot faster. This condition has five stages, from 0 to 4, stage 0 representing a normal joint, and stage 4 representing severe OA.
Aside from age or joint injury, other causes of OA include joint overuse, obesity, bone or joint abnormalities, weak muscles, and genetics.
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- Joint pain, swelling, and tenderness.
- Stiffness and limited range of motion.
- Muscle weakness around the affected joint.
Symptoms can vary depending on which joint is affected. In the case of knees, for example, a “scraping” feeling can occur during movement.
Even though rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has almost the same symptoms as OA, it is a completely different condition. OA is a degenerative disease, meanwhile, RA is an autoimmune disease. Another difference between the two is that RA usually affects more than one joint and both sides of the body; so if your right knee joint is affected, for instance, your left knee joint will most likely be affected too.
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by causing painful inflammation. In RA, the lining of the affected joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to the joint tissue. This damage causes chronic pain and other symptoms such as:
- Joint tenderness, swelling, and stiffness that lasts more than six weeks.
- Loss of joint function.
RA can also affect several organs in the body like the lungs, heart, skin, and eyes.
RA and OA are some of the most common causes of chronic knee pain—or joint pain in general—that we see at our clinics in Edison and other NJ locations.
Chronic Knee Pain
Chronic knee pain is not your regular knee pain—it’s usually hard to attribute it to a particular incident, unlike temporary knee pain, and treatment is almost always required for it to go away.
The knee joint is a hinge-type synovial joint, and it is one of the strongest and most important joints in the body. It works hard to support the weight of the body, along with the hips and ankles. It is composed of bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and other tissues, and it connects three bones: the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and the patella (kneecap).
What Causes Chronic Knee Pain?
Chronic knee pain can have many different causes, such as:
- Osteoarthritis (OA).
- Chondromalacia patella, or “runner’s knee” (the deterioration of the cartilage under the kneecap).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Baker’s cyst (a synovial fluid-filled sac that forms behind the knee).
- Injuries like dislocation of the kneecap, a meniscus tear, or a torn ligament.
- Osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer that commonly occurs in the knee) or other bone tumors.
Symptoms of Chronic Knee Pain
Depending on the cause, knee pain can feel different. It can manifest as:
- A dull, constant ache.
- A sharp, shooting pain during movement.
- Burning pain or discomfort.
Who’s at Risk?
The most common risk factors for chronic knee pain are:
- Being overweight or having obesity.
- Previous injuries.
- Regular exercise or athletic activity.
Treating Chronic Knee Pain
Treatments for chronic knee pain vary depending on the underlying cause. These may include medication, physical therapy, injections, or surgery. At Premier Pain Clinics, we also use alternative therapies to treat knee pain, such as laser therapy, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation (SCS), and medical marijuana.
However, one of the joint pain treatments most often recommended by our specialists is joint injections, especially when the pain is caused by bursitis, arthritis, or injury. Joint injections are a minimally invasive procedure with a quick recovery time and quick relief (from 2 to 7 days after the procedure). They work by releasing medicine into the joint, which helps relieve inflammation and pain.
If you are in NJ and have persistent knee pain, our joint injections and other treatment options can help. Feel free to contact us and we will help you schedule an appointment or solve any questions you may have.
There are several types of injections that can help with joint pain. Two pain injections we use at Premier Pain Clinics that can help relieve knee pain are:
- Hyaluronic acid injections: We use these injections specifically to treat joint pain in the knee. We often apply HA injections when corticosteroid injections can’t successfully relieve the pain. These are chemically similar to the synovial fluid, which helps lubricate the joint. The effects can last for up to five months.
- Hydrocortisone/Steroid injections: We often use these in the shoulders, knees, hands, elbows, wrists, and hips, to treat joint pain caused by injuries and arthritis. They often reduce inflammation and improve movement. The effects can last for several months.
Even though joint injections don’t treat the root cause of the pain, they are very effective in easing the symptoms and helping our patients recover their quality of life. Moreover, our comprehensive pain management approach combines different techniques to provide each patient with the optimal treatment for their particular case. This approach involves several treatment options such as alternative therapies, interventional procedures, physical therapies, etc., and allows us to create a more holistic, personalized treatment.
If you are in Edison, NJ, and are experiencing chronic knee pain or joint pain in general, request a consultation below to have one of our pain specialists evaluate your case. We will design the best treatment plan for your situation, aimed at helping you live a full, pain-free life.
FAQ About Knee Pain
How can I avoid joint damage?
The best way to avoid permanent joint damage is to see a doctor if you have joint pain that persists for more than a few weeks. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are key to prevent further problems.
How do joint injections help knee pain?
In general, joint injections work by releasing medicine into the joint, which helps relieve inflammation and pain. However, there are several types of joint injections—for instance, hyaluronic acid injections help by working similarly to the knee’s natural synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint and allows its normal functioning.
Are alternative therapies and interventional pain management safe?
Studies have shown these types of treatments are quite effective in treating low back pain. Although there are possible (mild) side effects, the risk of complications with these procedures is minimal. Our treatments at Premier Pain Clinics are safe, minimally invasive procedures that allow the patient to resume their normal life within a short period of time. Feel free to contact us to know more about our clinics and treatments.
What are the benefits of Premier’s approach to pain management?
At Premier Pain Clinics, we focus on comprehensive pain management, which combines different techniques to provide each patient with the optimal treatment for their particular case. This approach involves several treatment options such as alternative therapies, interventional procedures, physical therapies, etc., and allows us to create a holistic, personalized treatment plan for your specific needs.