Knee pain and knee surgeries are on the rise in the U.S.1 Over the past twenty years, the problem has doubled for women and tripled for men. The U.S. population is aging, and the typical body mass index score is increasing as well, but these factors combined only explain 25% of the problem. Knee pain can come from a wide variety of causes, so managing that pain starts with identifying the exact causes.
Most Common Sources of Knee Pain
- Arthritis: Not just for seniors. The age of onset for osteoarthritis of the knee is 40 to 45.2
- Activities that Put Constant Strain on the Knee: Occupational kneeling and squatting, cycling, ball sports.
- Illiotibial Band Syndrome: The band extending from the hip to the knee, on the outside of the leg, becomes too taut. Sometimes associated with distance running.
- Hip or Foot Pain: Gait altered to avoid pain in one place can cause repetitive stress in the knee.
- ACL Injury: A tearing of the ligament that connects the front of your shin bone to the back of your thigh bone. This ligament stops the leg from extending too far when kicking outward. ACL injuries are more prevalent in soccer, basketball, and sports that require quickly changing direction.
- Torn Meniscus: That’s the rubbery cartilage absorbing shock in the middle of the knee.
- Knee Bursitis: Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sac on the outside of the knee. The bursa helps tendons glide smoothly over the knee.
- Patellar Tendinosis: Irritation and failure to heal fast enough in connective tissue.
- Patellofemoral Syndrome: The knee cap isn’t moving on track. The misalignment is usually too slight for a person to notice.
Factors that Increase Knee Pain
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of flexibility
- Certain sports (conditioning and modifications are often a better answer than giving up a sport)
- Previous injury
Is Knee Pain Serious?
Not all knee pain is serious, but some knee pain should be rehabbed. For instance, osteoarthritis causes continued degeneration of the knee. Early intervention with physical therapy has been shown to not only improve pain and function but to also slow the degeneration of the knee.3,4 Physical therapy also lessens the need for surgery.
Signs You Should See a Physical Therapist for Knee Pain
- Knee feels like “giving out”
- Can’t bear full weight on the knee
- Interference with work or sport
- Knee pain is worse when going up or down stairs
- Feeling of warmth in the joint
- Pain gets worse with activity and better with rest
- Morning stiffness
Knee Treatment at Step Ahead Physical Therapy
Treatment for knee pain at Step Ahead will be more than a few strengthening exercises and stretches for most patients. The tendons need to be in good condition. By the time patients reach us, tendon fibrosis has often developed. We can apply the hands-on therapies that restore tendon function. We’ll evaluate the role of posture, foot mechanics, athletic technique, and even sporting equipment. Knee pain can often be reinforced by an altered neurological functioning such as asymmetrically delayed proprioception. We can even rehab the neurological components to maximize joint stability and protection.
Want to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy for knee pain? Contact Us Today at Step Ahead Physical Therapy for more information and be sure to schedule an initial consultation.
- Nguyen US, Zhang Y, Zhu Y, Niu J, Zhang B, Felson DT. Increasing prevalence of knee pain and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: survey and cohort data. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2011 Dec 6;155(11):725-32.
- Vrezas I, Elsner G, Bolm-Audofrr U, et al. Case-control study of knee osteoarthritis and lifestyle factors considering their interaction with physical workload. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2010; 83 (3): 291-300.
- Deyle GD, et al. Effectiveness of manual physical therapy and exercise in osteoarthritis of the knee. A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med February 1, 2000: 132: 173-81.
- Hinman RS, et al. Efficacy of knee taping in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee: blinded randomized controlled trial. BMJ July 19, 2003; 327: 135-8.