Among American adults, approximately 25% have experienced knee pain affecting the function of the knee. If you are one of those 25%, we understand your experience and can help you feel better. Due to the advent of the internet and increased inactivity, knee pain has increased over the past 20 years. We see patients with knee pain often, with osteoarthritis being the most common cause in individuals over the age of 50. Knee injuries can occur as the result of a direct blow or sudden movement that strains the knee beyond its normal range of movement and can cause difficulty performing activities such as walking, rising from a chair, climbing stairs, or playing sports. If your knee(s) bother you during those activities, we understand what you are going through and have helped thousands with similar symptoms. Physical therapists are specially trained to help diagnose and treat knee pain, and help individuals return to their normal activities without pain or limitation.
WHAT IS KNEE PAIN?
Warning, this is the more scientific data so if you want to skip ahead to how we can help you then look below this section. Knee pain can occur suddenly for no apparent reason or develop slowly, as the result of repetitive trauma. Knee pain occurs in different parts of the knee, depending on what structures in the knee are involved. The knee joint is a hinge joint that connects the tibia (shin bone), and the femur (thigh bone) at the patella (kneecap). There are 4 main ligaments that support the knee joint. They are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL); posterior cruciate ligament (PCL); medial collateral ligament (MCL); and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). There are also 2 rings of cartilage that act as shock absorbers in the knee, called the medial and lateral meniscus.
- Anterior knee pain, also referred to as patellofemoral pain, is pain around the kneecap (patella) in front of the knee. This is the most common area for knee pain and can be due to osteoarthritis or trauma. This condition commonly affects younger females and may be due to overuse injury. Pain often occurs when performing activities like squats or stair-climbing.
- Lateral knee pain is pain that occurs on the outside of the knee. It is a type of overuse injury that commonly occurs in runners when the tendon called the iliotibial band (ITB) becomes irritated. Pain is often felt when performing activities such as climbing stairs, or when walking or running.
- Medial knee pain is pain that occurs along the inside of the knee when the MCL or the medial meniscus become irritated due to direct injury or overuse. Pain is felt when squatting, walking up or down an incline, or going down the stairs.
- Pain caused by a ligament tear may result from a direct blow to the knee, or when twisting or pivoting the knee while the foot is planted on the ground. Immediate pain and swelling usually occur, and the knee may feel unstable—like it will “give out”—when an individual attempts to put weight on the involved leg.
- Pain caused by osteoarthritis may occur anywhere in the knee where cartilage has broken down. This type of knee pain may begin as mild and progressively worsen. It can become increasingly difficult to walk long distances, fully bend and straighten the knee, climb stairs, or squat to sit in a chair. The knee also may swell intermittently with in-creased activity.
HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?
Our physical therapist will perform an evaluation that will start with dis-cussing your medical history and your symptoms, then ask questions to determine where your pain is located, if you sustained any trauma or injury to the knee, and what functional daily activities are painful or difficult for you to perform.
They will perform tests to find out if you have:
- Limited range of motion in the knee.
- Pain in the knee with certain movements.
- Weakness in the muscles around your hip, knee, or ankle.
- Limited flexibility in your hip, knee, or ankle.
- Difficulty walking.
- Difficulty performing activities, such as rising from a chair or climbing stairs.
- Problems with your balance or coordination.
- Difficulty controlling the knee during certain activities.
- Difficulty performing specific sports activities (for athletes).
GETTING PAIN FREE
Your physical therapist will listen to you and focus on helping you move and feel better. They will develop a customized and personalized rehabilitation program to ensure a safe return to your desired activities. Some general treatment techniques may include:
- Manual therapy, or “hands-on” therapy, to gently guide movement of the knee area to restore joint and tissue mobility.
- Pain management- Your therapist may use ice, heat, or electrical stimulation to help decrease pain and swelling. Also, intermittent compression using our state of the art, Normatec device is very helpful with knee pain.
- Therapeutic exercises for strengthening, flexibility, and endurance that will address your specific needs and goals.
- Functional exercises designed to help you return to your home, work, and sport activities. These may include balance and coordination exercises. And once you are pain free we will reintegrate those painful activities like squats and stairs so you can get back to doing everything you love.
- Self-care instruction teaching you ways to manage your pain at home, along with a safe and effective home-exercise program based on your specific condition. You’ll be able to continue improving long after your formal physical therapy sessions have ended.
WHAT IF YOU NEED SURGERY?
Your physical therapist, in consultation with your surgeon, will be able to tell you how much activity you can do depending on the type of knee surgery (such as total knee replacement) you undergo. Your therapist and surgeon also might have you participate in physical therapy prior to surgery to increase your strength and motion. This can help with recovery after surgery.
Following surgery, your physical therapist will design a personalized rehabilitation program for you and help you gain the strength, movement, and endurance you need to return to performing the daily activities you did before.
If you or someone you know is suffering from knee pain, call to make a FREE consultation appointment and see how we can help you. Please don’t wait for the pain to get worse. If you “request an appointment” at the top of the page, we can help you today!