Your knee is a complex joint containing many different structures making it vulnerable to a variety of injuries. Most knee injuries can be successfully treated with simple measures, such as bracing and rehabilitation exercises.
Other injuries may require surgery to correct which is why it is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your knee pain so that appropriate treatment can be directed.
What causes Knee Pain?
Your physiotherapist will perform a series of tests to assess which structures are damaged. Knee pain can either be from recent injuries or prolonged use and can involve soft tissue (such as ligament sprains and muscle strains), bone conditions (such as fractures or knee arthritis) or biomechanical dysfunctions in walking, running and sport. Most common instances of knee pain involve;
- Ligament sprains – Ligaments are structures that allow for bones in joints to be connected to each other. Sudden twists or change in direction may result in excessive force and ligament sprains of the knee joint. This occurs usually by repeated jumping or coming to a rapid stop while running where ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity. Torn ligaments can bleed into the knee and cause swelling, pain and joint instability. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is most commonly injured. A ruptured ACL does not heal by itself and may require surgical intervention.
- Tendon tears – Muscles are anchored to joints with tendons. Overstretched tendons can tear and bleed, these injuries tend to heal convervatively without the need for surgery.
- Patello-femoral pain syndrome – Patello-femoral pain syndrome is often distinguished by pain felt behind the kneecap. Squatting, walking up and down hills or stairs, or sitting still for extended periods of time can exacerbate your knee pain. The usual cause is abnormal biomechanics in the movement of the kneecap as the knee is bent and straightened. This can lead to wear and tear of the joint on the back of the kneecap. Imbalances in muscle strength, flexibility and structural abnormalities of the leg can be contributing factors to the problem. This type of knee pain usually comes on gradually over time.
After carrying out a thorough examination to determine the cause of pain and type of injury you have, the best course of action will be applied which may involve;
- Diagnosis and explanation of your specific knee condition
- Reduce swelling and gradually allow for return of full range of movement of the knee joint
- Joint mobilization/manipulation
- Bracing, strapping or taping
- Ice or heat therapy
- Stretching and strengthening to prevent injury recurrence and further weakness
- Dry needling
- Referral if required (such as anti-inflammatory medication, or X-rays from your GP if there is a suspected fracture)
Rehabilitation after Surgery
If you’ve had surgery on your knee, our physios can come to you to provide expert rehabilitation. All orthopaedic surgery requires rehabilitation to assist recovery and appropriately guide a return to activity levels without compromising the surgery undertaken.
Your physiotherapist will prioritize swelling and pain management strategies to minimize any inhibition of surrounding muscles and ligaments followed with biomechanical retraining, strengthening and ultimately a return to daily activities.