At PhysioExtra we are here to help you with knee pain physiotherapy. But first some background.
Your knee joint is the point where the thigh and shin bones meet. Each end of these bones is covered with cartilage. The cartilage allows the ends of the bones to move against each other almost without friction. The knee joint also has two extra pieces of cartilage, these are called menisci, and these spread the load more evenly across each knee.
The knee joint is held in place by four large ligaments. These ligaments are thick, strong bands and they run within or just outside the joint capsule.
Together with the capsule, the ligaments prevent the bones moving in the wrong directions or dislocating. The thigh muscles (quadriceps) also help to hold the knee joint in place.
What Causes Knee Pain?
There are many different causes of knee pain. A common cause is osteoarthritis, a condition that affects the body’s joints. The surfaces within the joint are damaged so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should.
The early signs of osteoarthritis are tenderness, and joint stiffness and tend to be limited to specific times in its early stages. You might notice your hips hurt after a participating in a sport or after exercise, or that your back is stiff first thing in the morning.
Other common causes of knee pain include, patella tendinopathy (runners or jumpers knee), collapsed arches as seen with flat feet or high arches reducing shock absorption.
Patellar tendinopathy occurs when the tendon that joins your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone (tibia) becomes gradually worn down. The tendon becomes weaker and painful, and is less able to cope with loading, such as when you walk.
It is known as runners or jumpers knee because the injury commonly occurs during sports that involve jumping or athletic level running.
Symptoms Of Knee Pain
Ligament sprains or tears – Ligaments provide stability to the knee by providing extra support. When a ligament is over-stretched the ligament fibres can be damaged, resulting in pain, swelling and in many cases, joint instability.
Cartilage tears (Meniscal tears) – Cartilage in the knee can act as a shock absorber and over a prolonged period of time can be damaged as a result of natural wear and tear.
Knee-Cap Pain (Patellofemoral Pain/CMP Condramalacia Patella) – Abnormal movement of the patella can be caused by; muscle imbalance, a shallow groove in the femur, soft tissue tightness and pronated flat feet. Pain generally develops over a period of time. And tends to be aggravated by any bent knee activities.
Treatment of Knee Pain
Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help and you should use them if you need to. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers.
It is important that the correct diagnosis is made for all knee injuries and that treatment commences as quickly as possible.
If your knee pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, you should seek the help of a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy can help you manage knee pain and improve knee strength and flexibility as well as help you understand your problem and get you back to your normal activities.
Treatment techniques can include specific strengthening exercises to correct a muscle imbalance soft massage, joint mobilisation, and the fitting of custom made orthotics to correct excessive foot pronation.
Physiotherapy Following Knee Replacement Surgery
A physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme after knee replacement surgery is an important part of your recovery programme. This is to help you continue to develop your strength, knee movement and walking ability.
Your physiotherapist will carefully assess your knee and then plan an individual programme of rehabilitation exercises to help strengthen your knee and leg muscles gradually. Treatment can involve stretching, and specific strengthening exercises.
At PhysioExtra we will give you advice about returning to normal activities or sporting hobbies. Walking, gardening, swimming, cycling and golf are highly recommended.
We may also discuss with you treatment with extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT). This involves applying shockwaves to the affected area in order to reduce your pain.
You can find out more about physiotherapy treatment of knee pain and its positive attributes in this article from the British Medical Journal.
In summary the research showed that muscle stretching and strengthening aspects of physiotherapy have a beneficial effect after three months sufficient to allow discharge from physiotherapy and that these benefits were maintained one year later.