Like other important joints, knees can be affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis (loss of weight and appetite, muscular pains, then red, swollen, painful joints with stiffness most noticeable first thing in the morning) and Osteoarthritis (episodes of pain, swelling, and stiffness, eventually knee may lock or give way); osteoarthritis of the hip may give pain in the corresponding knee. Knees can also be affected by Gout (only one knee affected, pain and swelling come on in matter of hours, fever, joint unbearably tender) and by Bursitis - housemaid's knee and ‘water on the knee' are forms of bursitis, caused by injury or pressure.
Infections such as Rheumatic Fever, osteomyelitis, and Infective Arthritis can involve knee joints. If any of these is suspected, consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 12 hours. All are of sudden onset, and involve fever, heat, swelling, and pain.
Knee injuries can take the form of Fractures, Dislocations, or damage to cartilages and ligaments (see Sprains). Unfortunately, all such injuries increase risk of Osteoarthritis at a later date. If knee is fractured or dislocated, there is severe pain, loss of movement, and deformity; appropriate action is to dial 999, and give Arnica 30c every 5 minutes until help arrives. If a ligament is torn, or if a cartilage is crushed or torn, as frequently happens in violent twisting injuries on the sports field, there will be escalating pain, stiffness, and swelling; appropriate action is consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours. Joint will probably be put in plaster; while it is healing, it is important to do exercises to prevent thigh muscles wasting.
With its two extra pads of cartilage (menisci) between the articulating surfaces of the upper and lower leg bones, the knee is well adapted for load bearing, but with age the cartilage may start to disintegrate, causing the joint to jam or give way unexpectedly. If this happens, both pads of cartilage may have to be removed; the knee is left weaker but remains perfectly serviceable if used sensibly. Quadriceps exercises (tendon of quadriceps muscle keeps kneecap firmly in place) are important in post-operative period.
Specific remedies to be taken every 2 hours for up to 3 days
- Knee painful and swollen, skin over joint very dry, joint gives a cracking sound Benzoic ac. 30c
- Knees crack when walking Causticum 30c
- Knees feel stiff and sore, as if from a beating Berberis 30c
- Knees feel cold Agnus 30c