The knee is a complex joint that relies heavily on ligaments and muscles for stability. The knee is a major weight bearing joint that is composed of the tibio-femoral joint, the patello-femoral joint, muscles and ligaments, which give active and passive stability to the knee, and two ring shaped cartilage discs in the knee, called the menisci (one meniscus).
What Causes Knee Pain?
Poor mobility or instability in the knee, hip, and/or ankle can result in mild to chronic pain in the corresponding knee. Knee pain can also be the product of improper movement, in particular, incorrect exercise techniques and positions, trauma, and overuse are other common causes. Also, the knee is a common area of the degeneration that comes with growing older and knee replacement surgery is becoming more common amongst the elderly.
Just keep in mind that not all knee pain is the same! Knee pain can happen to almost anyone; whether they are nine or ninety. Knee pain and injury is very common because the majority of us use our knees everyday. At first all knee pain may appear to be the same, but, there are actually many different causes of knee pain. Each of these different causes of knee pain result in slightly different kinds of pain that can require very different types of treatment!
Common Conditions that Lead to Knee Pain
As with all medical conditions, a thorough exam and a complete medical history is essential to diagnosing and treating an individuals knee pain. While it is easy to think the worst or jump to conclusions, some may find that their knee pain is from one of the many conditions that respond well to conservative care, which includes chiropractic treatment. Some of these conditions include:
Patellofemoral Syndrome: Front knee pain from going up and down stairs.
IT Band Syndrome: Pain on the outside of the knee which worsens with running.
Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper’s Knee): Front knee pain caused by jumping or running.
Popliteus Tendinitis: Outer knee pain that occurs while running downhill.
Osgood Schlatter Disease: Pain and swelling at the front of the knee, extra bone growth.
Bursitis: Pain over the inside or outside of the knee.
MCL Strains: Pain on the inside of the knee with rotation.
Meniscus Tear: Pain with knee flexion, possible clicking noise in the knee with flexion.
Osteoarthritis: Stiffness in the knee, becomes worse with prolonged sitting or walking.
Trochanteric Bursitis: Pain on the outside of the hip, or pain on the hip when lying down; usually feels similar to a burning sensation.
Pain Behind the Knee:
A common type of knee pain is caused by inflammation of the cartilage behind the kneecap (Chondromalacia Patella). Inflammation behind the cartilage results in a deep, dull, ache behind the kneecap. This pain tends to be much worse when using the stairs and after long periods of sitting with the knees bent (sitting at a desk all day or sitting in a movie theater). Chondromalacia patella is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 45 years old. To help eliminate the pain of chondromalacia patella, the inflammation behind the kneecap must be removed and/or decreased. Icing the knee, topical muscle creams, and anti-inflammatories can reduce the pain, but only for a short period of time. Ultrasound is one of the fastest ways to help eliminate the inflammation behind the kneecap.
Arthritic Knee Pain:
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of knee pain. Osteoarthritis is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis because it is caused by the wearing down of the cartilage in the joint. The wearing down of the cartilage is caused by improper joint function and motion. If your joint is not moving properly, it will wear out the cartilage in one spot which in turn leads to osteoarthritis.
Ligament Knee Pain and Athletic Injuries:
Athletic knee injuries are common in sports like basketball, football, track & field, and running. These injuries are usually traumatic, and occur after the foot is planted on the ground and the knee has been twisted too far. This as a result causes tears of the ligaments that support the knee…OUCH! After the injury, the knee is typically swollen, painful, and sometimes bruised. If there are complete tears of the ligaments, surgery may be required to repair the knee, however, if the ligament damage is less severe, conservative treatment consisting of icing, bracing, and rehab can be used to repair the knee.
The type of treatment that is most appropriate for one person is not necessarily right for another.
The main goal is to:
Decrease joint inflammation and reduce pain
- Avoidance of aggravating factors, use of a support, sports tape.
- Ice to reduce inflammation, muscle spasm and pain.
- Soft tissue healing: ultrasound & other therapies.
Normalize joint function
- Specific chiropractic adjustment techniques to areas of restricted movement in the knee and surrounding joints, to increase movement, improve the function, and reduce pain.
- Deep soft tissue massage, trigger-point therapy, and cross-friction.
Rehabilitation exercise program
- When appropriate we introduce exercises to improve strength, endurance, and stability. This will help you to return to normal and also prevent new injuries.
Types of treatment
Individualized exercise/therapy regimen
Rolling (ball or foam roller)
Taping (RockTape or Kinesio Tape)
Straps or supports
Acronym for Knee PainP.R.I.C.E.
Ice: 20min on, 40min off