The knee joint is particularly vulnerable to injury, taking your entire body weight and any extra force or pressure exerted on it through exercise and activity.
With so many different causes of knee injuries, we take a look at some of the most common injuries.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, often affecting all joints. It develops from a wearing of the cartilage and bones within the joint. The most common symptoms arising from osteoarthritis are mild swelling around the joint, stiffness in the joint and recurring pain. Depending on the severity, treatment can range from medication, injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), surgery or physiotherapy.
There are four ligaments that help to stabilise your knee joint, two of them run either side of the knee joint (medial and lateral collateral ligaments) with the other two situated inside the knee joint (anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments). The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are the most commonly injured ligaments. You will most likely find symptoms such as pain, swelling around the joint and a feeling of instability in the knee. These conditions can be diagnosed and treated by a Physiotherapist. Having a full assessment will allow the Physio to work out the severity of the damage and a realistic length of time for recovery.
Anterior Knee Pain
Anterior knee pain (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is found at the front of the knee joint or around the knee cap. It can sometimes be difficult to determine the official cause of the pain, although it is thought that factors such as muscle imbalance, previous injuries, overusing the joint or poor biomechanics can lead to anterior knee pain. It is most commonly apparent following prolonged periods of rest, squatting, kneeling or usage of stairs. Speaking to a Physiotherapist will give you a clearer understanding of what your knee is capable of and what could cause the pain to reoccur.
Menisci or Cartilage Injuries
The menisci are crescent shaped pieces of cartilage that sit on top of the tibia and act as shock absorbers. Injuries or tears often occur through activities that involve rotating or twisting the knee, such as, football, basketball, and tennis amongst other sports. The symptoms for this type of injury usually include pain (specifically when palpating the area), swelling, restricted movement, a feeling of the joint ‘catching’ or locking and instability of the knee. This injury can be diagnosed by a Physiotherapist, performing certain movements with your leg; however, on occasions an ultrasound or MRI scan may be required.
Activities that require repetitive movements in knee or prolonged periods of kneeling can cause a build-up of fluid around the joint, known as bursitis. The most common symptoms that arise from this condition are pain around the knee, worsening when the knee is fully bent or when kneeling on the affected side or swelling of knee area, often leaving it looking red and feeling warm.
For any pain, reduction in movement or function, treatment of some form will be required. Initially, following any of the above injuries, the PRICE format (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) should be applied for the first 48-72 hours post injury. Following on from this, it is advised that you speak to a Physiotherapist that will give you an expert opinion on what options to take next.
The aim of Physiotherapy is to reduce pain, accelerate the healing process, restore normal movement, and improve the strength of the supporting muscles, making your rehabilitation goal achievable. Your Physiotherapist will provide you with home exercise programmes and advice to aid rehabilitation. In addition, there are various other treatment options available to assist your injury, such as, acupuncture, electrotherapy, soft tissue techniques, taping/strapping and joint mobilisation.
For some types of knee injuries, surgery may be required. However, Physiotherapy can help prior to the surgery, strengthening the supporting muscles to reduce recovery after the operation, as well as correct rehabilitation once the operation has been successful.
If you are suffering with any knee pain or suspect you may have any of the above injuries, please use our FREE ‘Ask An Expert’ service on our website www.physiofusion.co.uk and receive expert advice within 24 hours.
Alternatively, you can contact our head office on 01282 453 110 to arrange an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists.