Knee pain can arise from soft tissue injuries, bone conditions, and biomechanical dysfunction. It may even be referred from your sciatica! Your Physiotherapist is trained in a variety of tests to best diagnose your knee pain They may also use scans such as xray and MRI and work in consultation with your Doctor or specialist to assist with accurate diagnosis and management of your injury.
The most common cause pain in the knee is arthritis. Osteoarthritis of the knee s a degenerative knee condition where the articular cartilage of your knee joint gradually wears away, exposing the underlying bone. Within your knee there are two joints which can be affected by knee arthritis: the tibiofemoral joint – the joint between your thigh bone (femur) and your lower leg (tibia) and the patellofemoral joint (the joint between the kneecap and the femur itself).
Knee arthritis is caused by increasing age, increasing body weight, previous knee injuries, work or sports that cause increased loading on the knee and genetic factors.
Knee arthritis is a degenerative condition. Physiotherapy treatment is aimed at improving the symptoms of the disease – pain, swelling, stiffness and strength. In some cases as the degeneration increases surgery may be required to smooth the joint surfaces and even complete joint replacement.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament: The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the four ligaments in the knee crucial to maintaining knee stability. A tear of the ACL is the most debilitating knee ligament injury.
An ACL tear is most commonly a sporting injury and can occur as a result of pivoting or twisting on the knee or from a blow in contact sports.
ACL tears do not necessarily require surgery. A decision should be made in consultation with your Physio and Doctor based on your age, your future exercise and activity plans and whether you experience instability or episodes of your giving way which impact on your ability to function.
Other ligaments that may be injured in the knee are the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) which pairs with the ACL to control rotation stability of the knee and the Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligaments (MCL and LCL) which support the outsides of the knee and help to control its forward and backward hinge movement.
Whether or not you require surgery for your ligament tear your Physio will prescribe a rehabilitation program that involves leg strengthening, balance retraining, and retraining in functional and sport-specific activities as required.
The meniscus is the cartilage pad that separates thigh bone (femur) from your shin bone (tibia). As we walk, run, and jump the knee absorbs tremendous forces. Your meniscus helps to absorb these forces so that the bone surfaces are not damaged.
The meniscus can be damaged in two ways:
- Trauma: caused by twisting a slightly bent knee
- Degeneration: caused by wear and tear of the cartilage over time
Once the meniscus is torn it may catch and lock the knee as it moves. This may causes the tear to worsen and in some cases surgery may be needed to trim or repair the cartilage to improve function and reduce pain.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain felt behind the patella (kneecaps) where it rubs on the femur (thigh bone) one of the most common knee complaints. It can affect everyone from the young active sportsperson to the elderly.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, is mainly due to poor kneecap alignment, which in time, can cause wear and tear on the joint surfaces. The alignment of thekneecap is affected by the balance in strength and flexibility of the muscles around the knee.
Often called Jumper’s Knee, the patella tendon just below the kneecap becomes inflamed and painful. Patella tendonitis like patellofemoral pain syndrome is also caused by muscle strength and flexibility imbalances and is often seen in people beginning new exercises or increasing their training load or intensity.
Treatment for Knee Pain
Your Physio can assist with improving movement, rebalancing the muscles, improve the alignment of your kneecap reducing pain.