Knee pain is common and very painful. The causes vary, but the effects are obvious. You experience trouble walking because the structures in the knee can become inflamed or damaged, resulting in pain with each step.
You can develop the condition quickly, from an accident such as twisting the knee on the ski slope or by simply slipping and falling on an icy pavement. Other conditions can develop slowly due to altered muscle mechanics caused by sporting activity or the effects of arthritic changes in the joint. Either way, you want relief, and an osteopath is often your best choice to achieve this. An osteopath can help diagnose the cause of pain, decide on the most appropriate course of treatment and advise if further investigation is needed. Osteopathy can help to decrease pain in a lot of knee conditions, giving you your mobility and quality of life back.
What Is Knee Pain and How Does It Affect Your Life?
Knee pain can vary in intensity from mild discomfort with stiffness to acute pain. Pain influences our lifestyle choices and limits our activities in a number of ways:
- Reducing housework, DIY and sport
- Having less energy and focus for job-related tasks
- Limiting social life
- Gradually producing a sedentary lifestyle
- Increasing the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medication
Knee pain can cause major disruptions in a person’s life. As a rule, sporting activities are the first to go since they put major stress on the knee joint, but all mobility, even gentle walking can be affected. Routine errands and tasks that don’t get a second thought when your knee is in good working order require major consideration before starting. Concerns about distance, how many steps are present, if the terrain is flat or not and how much standing is involved become important. When experiencing knee pain, few people will get as much exercise as usual.
What Are the Symptoms of Knee Pain?
Symptoms for knee pain vary widely from person to person due to the cause of the injury and the condition of the knee joint before the problem began. But there are several symptoms that are usually present:
- Decreased knee joint range of movement
- Instability in the knee area, especially when you stand
- Redness / heat
- Popping noises or crunching sounds when you try to walk on it or straighten your leg
In cases of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis in the knee joint you may experience swelling, redness, warmth, joint stiffness, bony enlargement and decreased joint range of movement. The stiffness can be particularly bad first thing in the morning or after sitting for long periods. With other knee problems symptoms can occur in a localised part of the knee joint or throughout the whole joint. If an infection is present the entire knee could be red, hot and swollen.
What Causes Your Knee Pain?
Both illness and injury can cause knee pain. Causes are divided into three major categories:
- Traumatic injury that results in damage to a structure within the knee such as a ligament or cartilage (meniscus), or breaking a bone.
- Medical problems like infections, gout and arthritic conditions such as osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Overuse injuries through sport and lifestyle causing problems like bursitis and tendinitis.
Teenagers can be prone to pain just below the knee joint after a growth spurt, or with continuous sporting activity. Inflammation of the quadriceps tendon insertion on the tibial tuberosity is called Osgood Schlatters.
Sporting injuries can result in damage to the knee ligaments. The four main supporting ligaments are the medial and lateral collateral ligaments and the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. Depending on the extent of the injury damage to these ligaments can range from a mild strain to a tear or rupture. The cartilage (meniscus) is also prone to injury, during sport it can be damaged during a twisting movement through the weight bearing leg.
Running / Jogging can also lead to knee pain. If you have flat feet, muscle imbalance or patella (knee cap) tracking problems, excessive strain can be put through the knee joint causing pain. Lateral knee pain is quite common in distance runners and can be related to tightness in the Iliotibial band. Pain can also be caused by damage to the cartilage behind the knee cap (chondromalacia patellae). Sports that involve a lot of jumping and kicking are prone to causing inflammation to the patellar tendon (tendinitis), which will cause pain just below the knee cap. As an Osteopath we are trained to not only diagnose the cause of pain but also to look out for these predisposing problems and help to improve them.
The knee joint can also be put under strain during house work, DIY and manual jobs especially if it is knelt on frequently. A common problem caused by this can be swelling and pain caused by bursitis. The two types of bursitis most frequently seen are housemaids knee (pre patellar bursitis) and clergyman’s knee (infra patellar bursitis).
Two types of arthritis are common causes of knee pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory auto immune condition, where as osteoarthritis is more related to the wear and tear process as we get older. The knee can also be affected by gout causing severe pain, swelling and redness of the joint. Occasionally with degenerative arthritic knee problems a Bakers cyst (popliteal bursitis) may develop. This causes a painful swelling behind the knee joint.
How Can Osteopathy Help Your Knee Pain?
The initial aim of the Osteopath when assessing your knee pain is to diagnose the cause. It can then be decided if Osteopathic treatment is appropriate for your condition or whether further investigation / referral to GP or Consultant is required. The goal of osteopathy when treating your knee is to reduce pain, improve mobility and strengthen the joint. This is achieved with a combination of gentle osteopathic articulation and massage techniques along with advice on decreasing inflammation. In some cases KT strapping to protect the joint is beneficial and, later, appropriate exercises to strengthen the knee may be required. Lifestyle advice may also be given to help you maintain the improvement achieved.
Osteopaths can get you mobile again. They have the training and experience to advise you on how to avoid pain while staying active and without causing further problems to the knee joint.
Osteopathy, with its emphasis on the whole person, is a natural choice for people suffering from knee pain. An osteopath treats the body in its entirety, working with posture, mobility mechanics, lifestyle and the tissues of the knee to bring pain relief and functionality back to the area.