Knee Pain: Causes, Treatment and Prevention
Knee pain is a common complaint that may arise from injury (trauma/acute injury or old injuries), wear and tear, arthritis, or mechanical problems. Knee pain is on the rise with people’s changing lifestyles. Prolonged office hours and immobility cause increased wear and tear on the joints, including the knee. Additionally, sitting leads to weak muscles, which means the body can’t function as intended. Some patients also come in with pain from an old surgery where perhaps they didn’t complete adequate rehabilitation.
Thorough Evaluation for Proper Resolution
Because there are so many potential causes, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate the knee pain and body mechanics. We start by gathering subjective information from the patient: history, type of pain, pain level, location of pain, what happened, when it hurts, etc.
Along with this comes the objective information gathered from a physical examination and testing. Before starting any treatment, we must do testing to understand if there are underlying issues such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout which may require pharmaceutical/internal interventions. It is also important to identify if there are acute issues like fractures or torn ligaments, so the patient will often need to get X-rays or an MRI. Mechanical issues causing knee pain include iliotibial band syndrome, dislocated kneecap, a loose piece of bone or cartilage floating in the joint space, and altered gait or posture. With the latter, a person may develop knee pain when problems in other areas cause them to change the way they stand and walk.
By using tools to differentiate potential problems, we form an assessment which determines the best treatment plan. The plan may include various interventions for underlying issues, physical therapy, support from holistic treatments such as acupuncture to reduce the pain, and exercises for the patient to do at home.
What You Can Do: Preventing and Managing Knee Pain
- Stay strong and flexible. Strong, balanced and flexible muscles can function at their best, potentially preventing unnecessary injury and pain. Balance is key, as overtraining or weakness in a particular area can cause problems. Tight muscles often lead to postural problems, so don’t forget daily stretching. Try to do a variety of exercise and work different muscle groups. Make sure you get up and move a bit and stretch during the day. Anyone who sits for long hours without moving may develop problems, even if (or especially if) they do lots of exercise on the weekends.
- Get your pain checked out promptly. Whether it be neck, back, shoulder, knee, ankle or foot pain…don’t ignore it. Often, a quick treatment and simple exercises will help. If you ignore it, the pain may go away temporarily as the body compensates. However, you’ll often end up with more pain and problems later.
- If you do intense exercise or sport (or are feeling pain when training), consult with a physiotherapist. They can review your alignment and be sure you’re in proper condition to avoid injury.
- Follow your treatment plan and at-home exercises. It takes time to get better, but you’ll improve much faster when you do the exercises recommended outside of your office visits. If you have difficulties or concerns, contact your physiotherapist. They can work with you on accommodations to be sure you can handle the exercises.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts pressure on the joints.