Knee pain can present in so many different ways, often being caused through the most innocuous movement/activity. A lot of the time, you will have small things building up over a period of time before you suffer with your pain or injury.
What can cause my knee pain?
There are so many potential causes of knee pain that I won’t cover them all in this post. Instead I will try to touch on as many as possible. The two key areas that can lead to or increase the risk of knee is the level of strength and range of movement of the muscles around the knee. Weakness and tightness in the muscles can predispose you to injury. You may be sat there thinking, so what, I stretch all the time and strengthen my muscles but I still suffer with pain. The list below outlines potential causes of knee pain.
- Previous Injury
- Excessive Weight
- Significant Trauma
- Lack of Strength
- Lack of Flexibility
Pain on the inside of the knee
If this is you, and you are suffering with pain on the inside of the knee, the first you should do is book in with a professional. Most causes of medial knee pain are typically traumatic in their onset. If you have the sensation of locking, giving away or feeling as if there is something in your knee catching as you move your leg; you may have damaged some important structures.
Sports that have lots of twisting and turning can increase the risk of medial knee pain, this can cause extra strain on the MCL. Activities that involve planting of the foot and then a twist can put you at risk of a meniscus injury. As you get older however, you are naturally at a greater risk of arthritis. If untreated/managed can cause significant damage to the knee.
Pain behind the knee
There are several causes again of pain behind the knee. Muscles that attach in and around this area include the calves and hamstrings. Straining these muscles, if they are inadequately prepared for activity can lead to pain behind the knee. Alternatively, your pain can be caused by a Baker’s Cyst. This is normally quite obvious to diagnose, due to the big lump that sits in the back of the knee. All the cyst is made up of is synovial fluid. This may need to be drained by a doctor, however, if the true cause of the Baker’s Cyst is determined it can be possible to get rid of this through specific exercises and treatments.
Pain on the outside of the knee
This is a common problem that is seen in runners. Often referred to as Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The repetitive bending and straightening can cause the IT band to become inflamed and painful. This is commonly seen in runners who have had a sudden spike in their workloads, whilst also having reduced levels of flexibility. The best place to start with this if you suffer with this is to look at 3 things.
- Your week to week loading/mileage
- The footwear you have
- The surfaces you run on
- Or if you are a cyclist, look at the position of your knee as you pedal
Pain on the front of the knee
So again there are multiple causes that lead to this. I see this often most weeks and it is usually caused by 2 specific areas of tightness. Tightness in the hamstrings and/or tightness of the rectus femoris muscle (front of the thigh).
Both of these muscles being tight will affect the tilt of the pelvis, which in-turn will play a part in how your kneecap is tracking. When the kneecap is influenced by a tight rectus femoris muscle you can find that you have pain just under the kneecap. This is due to the greater strain placed on the patella tendon through the tight muscles.
How can I get rid of my knee pain?
First things first, get assessed first to fully determine the cause of your pain. It isn’t a one shoe fits all when it comes to exercises to get you pain free again. However, working on your flexibility really does help. Although, if you are doing mobility exercises, make sure you are strengthening your muscles too. What is the point of increasing your movement if it is going to be weak throughout the movement?
- Get Stretching
- Get Strengthening
- Get Assessed
- Get Fixed