The knee joint is actually two separate joints, the weight-bearing tibiofemoral joint between the tibia (shin bone) and the femur (thigh bone), and the patellofemoral joint (PFJ) where the patella (knee cap) slides up and down a groove in the femur as we bend and straighten our knee. The purpose of the PFJ is to give our quadriceps more leverage when straightening the knee making them more efficient.
Most of the injuries to the knee occur due to excessive lateral and rotational stresses. These stresses can occur with one sudden forceful event causing ligament injuries or tears to cartilage structures such as the medial or lateral meniscus. Careful assessment of the severity of these injuries is important as sometimes surgery is required for satisfactory outcomes.
Other common causes of knee pain include:
- repeated lateral and rotational stress
- ligament sprains
- patellofemoral pain syndrome (when the patella slips out of its groove when gliding up and down, creating friction with the thigh bone)
- patella tendinopathy or iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome (‘runner’s knee’)
- patella dislocation
- poor muscle control of the hip and pelvis
- collapsed arches such as those seen in flat feet or high arches reducing shock absorption may disrupt the normal biomechanics in the lower limb
- pain originating from above or below joints and body structures
Effective treatment focuses on decreasing or eliminating any excessive lateral and rotational stresses that exist thus facilitating ‘straight-line’ mechanics of the knee. Identifying and treating underlying factors that drive these stresses underpins the treatment process.
Physiotherapy treatment for knee pain will vary depending on your particular condition but may include:
- manual therapy
- dry needling
- gait re-education
- a tailored exercise program
See also - Jaw Pain, Shoulder, Elbow & Forearm, Wrist & Hand, Pelvic Pain, Hip & Groin, Thigh, Knee, Shin, Foot, Head & Neck, Upper Back/Thoracic Spine, Lower Back, Buttocks, Calf & Achillies Tendon, Ankle