Knee pain has many complex causes due to the intricate relationship between your knees, hips, ankles and feet. In many cases knee pain is incidental in that it is the result of a dysfunction up or down the kinetic chain at the hips or the foot and ankle. For example, if the gluteus medius muscles of the hip are not strong enough to stabilise the leg during walking, running and other activities, it is very likely that the tissues of the knee will bare the load and eventually reach their tipping point. As similar translation of forces to the knee will also take place if the position of the foot is compromised.
Further to this, the powerful muscles of the thigh that stabilise the patella can become imbalanced, causing poor patella tracking and unnecessary friction at the joint location.
The good news is that if you suffer from knee pain, resolving it doesn’t necessarily need to be complicated.
Common Overuse Injuries to the Knee
- Patellofemoral joint pain – front of the knee and around the patella
- Patellar tendonitis – pain below the kneecap
- Iliotibial band syndrome (runner’s knee) – pain on the outside of the knee
- Quadriceps tendonitis – pain above the kneecap
- Bursitis – pain and swelling located near any of the bursa in the knee
Resolving Knee Pain
I approach knee pain in a multi-faceted way:
- Thoroughly assess the biomechanical and lifestyle reasons behind the pain. This could include such things as observing your running technique, understanding what sorts of stresses your knees are under, such as stair climbing, weight lifting, kneeling etc.
- Relieve the symptoms through treatment to the legs, hips and tissues around the knees. Often rapid relief from symptoms is felt.
- Strengthen the muscles that stabilise the knees, and work on stabilisation of the hips and other areas as relevant to your individual needs.
- Retrain the body to use efficient biomechanics that share the load and don’t overload one particular joint, in this case the knees. This could involve looking at your individual activities such as running and weight training etc., and ensuring that you are using your body in a way that is sustainable.
In many cases where moderate tissue damage is present, for example to the ligaments that support the knee, rehabilitation exercises to stabilise the knee and improve biomechanics is enough to avoid the need for surgery.