Knee pain is very common, no matter what the gender or age, it can affect us all. Knee pain can be placed into two specific categories; acute or chronic. Acute pain can be defined as pain that has a sudden onset which can usually be pinned on an underlying problem. Chronic pain is typically characterised by pain that lasts for over 6-months in duration.
Acute Knee Pain
With this relating to the sudden onset of pain, there can be some obvious signs and symptoms present. Swelling, redness or heat around the joint may be seen or felt. Common injuries that are classed as an acute problem include; inflammation of the tendons, meniscus/cartilage injury or ligament injury. Meniscus injuries can be characterised by an audible pop or a locking/clicking sensation felt in the knee. A sudden spike in your loading through the week can cause an inflammatory response in the tendon, this can be seen through swelling on the site of pain, area of heat compared to the other side and pain when exercising.
Dependent on the severity of ligament injury will determine the the presentation of your symptoms. Ligament injuries are talked about here.
Chronic Knee Pain
If the acute problem is not fixed this can then lead into a chronic injury. Injuries that lead to long periods of time with reduced exercise can be complete ruptures of a ligament, meniscal injuries, bone injuries such as a fracture and chronic inflammation of the ligaments.
Factors that can aggravate the chronic pain are, overuse, poor biomechanics either through the gait or running, poor warm-up and cool down and finally, limited stretching of the surrounding musculature.
Risk Factors for Knee Pain
There are many risk factors for knee pain, here are a few examples:
- Excess Weight: Carrying excess weight increases the amount of load and stress going through the joints at a time. Whether you are an avid walker or its simply going up/down the stairs, the amount of effort the muscles are required to put in to maintain the stabilisation and control of the joint is increased. This also increases the risk of osteoarthritis through the breakdown of the joint.
- Reduced Flexibility and Strength in the Limb: Having a decrease in the amount of range a limb can move through and a decrease in the muscle strength will increase the risk of knee pain and injury. Having a good muscle strength helps with stabilisation of the joint whilst a flexible limb allows the limb to move further.
- Certain Jobs and Sports: Sports that involve a lot of jumping, twisting and sharp changes of direction increase the risk of knee pain and injury. Whilst jobs that carry a repetitive stress, such as working involving constant heavy lifting with knee bends involved will increase the risk.
- Previous Injury: A previous injury to the knee pre-determines an increased risk of pain and injury.
How Can You Help Yourself
There are many different ways that you can physically help yourself. Firstly, if you are carrying excess weight purely cutting this down can reduce the stress placed on the knee during activities of daily living. However, if you already have conditions that lead to you suffering with knee pain, be clever with the exercise modalities you use. If you consistently suffer with knee pain following jogging, try swimming, anything you can do to manage the load going through the knee can effectively help you.
Physical preparedness for activity is key; this can include an effective warm-up prior to playing a sport or going for a jog and a cool-down following the exercise. Further to this, leading up to exercise regularly stretching the muscles surrounding the knee can reduce the resultant knee pain from exercise. Adequate strengthening, built up over a period of time, can also support you in your battle with knee pain.
How Can We Help
Here at Cardy Sports Clinic we can manage your levels of flexibility and strength in the muscles, whilst accurately fixing these problems to get you back to your best. We can also prescribe exercises that are best suited to you and your current physical activity levels.
If you require any further help book an appointment so we can get you back to doing what you love to do.