Sciatica knee pain is an extremely common symptom location which can cause many diagnostic problems due to the great incidence of knee joint pathologies. Knee pain in sciatica sufferers can occur virtually anywhere in this problematic anatomical structure and is often mistakenly or correctly blamed on degeneration or injury in the joint itself.
Many patients suffer pain behind the knee or on the outer aspect of the knee, while others face pain seeming to originate from under the kneecap. Regardless of where the pain occurs, knee pain can be a limiting and sometimes incredibly disabling condition to bear.
This article will examine a range of knee pain conditions which may be related or incidental to sciatica. We will also look at why sciatica and knee joint abnormalities which exist together can cause diagnostic nightmares for many patients.
Knee Pain Expressions
Radicular knee pain typically exists with other sciatica symptoms, including widespread lower body pain, tingling, numbness or weakness. Pain in one knee can be due to unilateral sciatica, while pain in both knees can be sourced by bilateral sciatica.
Pain which only occurs in the knee and does not affect any other lower body structure is not likely to be the result of sciatica. Instead, the problem might exist in the knee joint itself, in one of the many ligaments or tendons in the area or may be caused by a psychosomatic knee pain process.
Remember, deterioration of the knee joint and the development of arthritic processes are both normal events as people get older. Excessive wear and tear due to injury, repetitive strain or simple overuse can all worsen these joint changes considerably.
Iliotibial band syndrome often strikes severely in the knee, particularly in runners or serious athletes.
Sciatica Knee Pain Causes
Structural issues in the spine may be responsible for knee pain and other lower body symptoms in instances of true sciatica.
Diagnoses like lumbar osteoarthritis and herniated discs are made to explain pain in many cases, but structural issues can actually exist higher in the vertebral column and still enact leg symptoms, which may take hold in the knee or virtually any region of the lower limbs.
Nonspinal, but purely structural, issues can express themselves in the knee, with piriformis syndrome being the most common of all these muscular nerve compression syndromes.
Keep in mind that many patients may indeed have sciatica, but still are suffering from knee joint problems as well. In fact, there is a much higher incidence of serious pathological knee issues in people who demonstrate lower back pain and sciatica due to altered and incorrect posture, balance and gait.
In essence, just because a person has sciatica does not mean that the knee is sound. Meanwhile, just because the knee might demonstrate some degeneration, does not mean that sciatica is not the actual cause of the pain, with the structural joint changes being circumstantial. I know, it can be very a very complicated situation.
Sciatica Knee Pain Experiences
I know how bad knee pain can be. I have a long history of knee issues, seemingly unrelated to my back pain. Doing martial arts puts tremendous stress on your joints and none feel these degenerative effects worse than the knees and hips. I tore the meniscus in my right knee twice, but this really has not been a major issue for me up until a few years back.
I really have a tough time putting lots of pressure on my knee cap from all those years of abuse. However, the knee issues are minor compared to the other neurological problems and pain conditions which reside in my spine.
I caution all patients to seek diagnostic evidence which is conclusive before seeking treatment for sciatica or knee joint issues. There is a large amount of overlap territory in the symptomatic expressions and you would not want to undergo back or knee surgery when the treatment is not going to resolve the actual source of pain. Be sure to get several opinions from a variety of care providers before acting on any of their care recommendations.