5 Different Types of Knee Pain and Remedies
Knee Pain can be caused by many different factors as the knee is made up by numerous structures, all of which need to function optimally in order for the knee to be pain free. Ligaments, cartilage, tendons, muscles and bone surfaces can all be affected by overuse, trauma or biomechanical factors such as flat feet or mal-alignment of the legs. Pain usuallybegins gradually so an early response is key. Understanding the reason for your knee pain is the first step to overcoming it.
1 – PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN SYNDROME
Also known as “runners knee”. This pain is caused by the wearing down, roughening or softening of cartilage under the kneecap. This is the most common knee complaint, often by people with an active lifestyle or the elderly. This is related to muscle imbalance that causes excessive joint pressure from poor kneecap alignment. The kneecap is meant to glide up and down the groove formed by the femur, pain occurs due to a variety of reasons when it is not gliding smoothly or moves off track.
Poor feet position, weak hip muscles and poor alignment anywhere in the body can lead to abnormal movement resulting in pain. Range of motion, muscle length, muscle balance, and movement patterns all need to be addressed and normalized. Physiotherapists will work with all these factors to optimize patellar tracking and knee alignment to return you to pre injury norm.
2 – BURSITIS KNEE
Also known as “housemaid’s knee” due to the kneeling action that causes it. In the knee there are 11 bursae, these are small fluid filled sacs that act as cushions between the different parts of the knee. Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa due to inflammation. The most common inflammation occurs below the kneecap. This is often caused by trauma, falls, arthritis, and repeated pressure or repeated motion, (from sports or professions that require a lot of kneeling).
Bursitis can be prevented by maintaining flexible thigh muscles and reducing the amount of time you spend in a kneeling position. If excessive kneeling is part of your daily routine, taking breaks, alternating knees, and pacing yourself are all ways to reduce aggravating the bursae in order to prevent inflammation.
3 – KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS
The most common cause of knee arthritis is Knee Osteoarthritis. It occurs when the cartilage of your knee joint wears away, exposing the underlying bone. This can lead (remove to) bony spurs to develop. Age, weight, knee injuries, genetics, sports or labor intensive professions can all be contributing factors to a person developing Knee Osteoarthritis. Some symptoms can be swelling, stiffening, feeling warm or developing a click.
This is a degenerative condition. Physiotherapy can help improve muscle flexibility and strength around the knee while applying methods to offload the knee or reduce excessive load. Balancing forces in the body by improving alignment and body mechanics can help to achieve this. Knee braces may be implemented to assist in load bearing. Surgery may be suggested if the symptoms become unmanageable.
4 – ILIOTIBIAL FRICTION SYNDROME
This is a common contributor to “runners knee’. The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thin band of fascia that runs down the outside of the thigh. A repetitive movement without proper alignment, such as running or cycling, causes friction resulting in an overuse injury, rather than an injury caused by a specific trauma. Symptoms are swelling, pain at knee bending, sharp or burning pain at the outer part of the knee.
Physiotherapy assists with range of motion, muscle length and balance. Alignment and movement patterns need to be addressed and normalized. Surgery is sometimes an option as a last resort.
5 – LIGAMENT AND CARTILAGE TEARS
The knee is held together by numerous ligaments that restrict excessive movement in different directions. This is important in sports that require a lot of running, jumping and quick changes of direction. The cartilage absorbs the shocks. These ligaments and cartilages can become sprained or fully torn from their place.
There are certain preventative strategies that can be implemented such as orthotics, strengthening, stretching exercises, implementation of proper movement mechanics and an ongoing maintenance program.