Knee pain can range anywhere from an annoyance to a major pain (literally) that keeps you from doing things you have or want to do. It can keep you from climbing stairs or squatting or stooping down to feed the pets or pick something up off the floor. It can make it difficult to stand up from a chair, couch or car, and interfere with walking, running or sports.
But what is causing the pain? There are a lot of reasons why your knee can hurt. The knee joint is nestled between the hip and ankle, so it can be affected not only by problems in the knee itself, but also by problems in the hip or ankle that you may not even be aware of!
If the outside of your knee hurts when you walk or run, you could have Iliotibial Band Syndrome. If the whole knee generally feels stiff and painful in the morning, then better when you “walk it out” throughout the day, then hurts again at night, you may have osteoarthritis. If the front of your knee and kneecap get stiff and painful with sitting for a long time and hurt more with going down stairs than up, patellofemoral syndrome (also know as chondromalacia) may be the source of your knee pain. These are just a few examples of causes of knee pain.
Other causes of knee pain may not even come from the knee but rather from issues at the hip or ankle, as mentioned above. Weakness or stiffness of the hip or ankle can cause knee pain because the knee joint is sandwiched between them and any imbalances pass to the knee. For instance, one of the reasons for patellofemoral syndrome at the knee is weakness in the hip muscles; another is a flat or fallen arch at the foot.
A thorough clinical evaluation will help reveal where they symptoms are coming from and why. With a clear picture of the specific reason for your knee pain, treatment can be directed at the source of the problem for a quicker, better outcome. Primary care physicians, orthopedists, and physical therapists are a few of the health care professionals who can evaluate and treat knee pain. There are many different treatment possibilities for each knee problem and vary depending on the cause. Options include (but are not limited to) oral or topical medications, injections, surgery, and physical therapy. Physical therapists are movement specialists of the human body and are trained to look for and treat problems of the muscles, joints, and soft tissues non-invasively.
At Trinity Rehab, we can help clarify the source of your knee pain and direct you to the most appropriate treatment options or other health care professionals to address the true problem and make sure it does not come back.
For more information or to set up a physical therapy appointment, contact your local New Jersey Trinity Rehab.
By Valerie Dellocono, PT, MTC