6 Most Common Knee Injuries and How To Manage Them
Dealing with knee pain and want long-term relief?
Do you experience pain with squatting, prolonged sitting, or climbing stairs? Are you living with persistent pain, swelling, or mechanical symptoms, such as catching and locking? Do your knees make it difficult to perform daily tasks that once seemed simple?
If so, Panetta Physical Therapy can help you find relief. Below you’ll find a list of 6 of the most common knee injuries that cause discomfort, as well as treatment plans and a few tips on how to avoid knee injury. Knee pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to walk, run, and move. It may even hinder your ability to do some of the activities you love. Fortunately, our physical therapy treatments at Panetta Physical Therapy can get you moving once again by relieving your pain and enhancing your body’s natural healing process.
What are some common knee injuries? Your knee is the largest joint in your body, made up of a complex system of bones, tendons, and ligaments. Because of this, the knee can be easily injured due to overexertion or repetitive motions.
Most Common Knee Injuries
• Arthritis. The most common type of arthritis for knee pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage surrounding your joints deteriorates from “wear and tear.” This causes uncomfortable friction as the joint no longer has a sufficient cushion between the bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is another common cause of knee pain. This is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the joints to become swollen and inflamed, with varying levels of severity.
• Fracture. A fracture occurs when one of the bones in the knee (including the kneecap, or patella) become damaged. Fractures are a common knee injury and are typically the result of some type of trauma, such as a harsh fall or collision.
• Torn ACL. An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear occurs when one of the ligaments connecting your shinbone to your thighbone becomes torn. This is a common injury for athletes who participate in sports that are physically-demanding on the knees, such as basketball, track and field, or soccer.
• Torn meniscus. The job of the meniscus is to act as a shock absorber between the shinbone and thighbone. It is made up of thick cartilage, but it can be torn if your knee twists too suddenly while weight is still being put on it.
• Patellar tendinitis. Your tendons are thick connective tissues that attach muscles to bones. Tendinitis occurs when one or multiple tendons become inflamed. The patellar tendon, located in the knee, typically becomes inflamed through repetitive jumping motions common in sports such as skiing, cycling, or hurdling.
• Knee bursitis. Bursae are small fluid sacs that act as cushions outside of your joints. Knee bursitis occurs when the bursae in your knee becomes inflamed, limiting the ability for your tendons and ligaments to move smoothly over the joint.
How can physical therapy help my knee pain?
Our licensed physical therapists at Panetta Physical Therapy will examine your knee for signs of misalignment or structural damage, in addition to examining your stance, posture, gait, and range of motion. After your physical exam is complete, your physical therapist will prescribe a physical therapy plan for you, aimed at relieving unnatural stresses and strains, and normalizing your joint function.
Knee Pain Treatment
Treatment plans for knee pain typically include:
• Hands-on Physical Therapy techniques to allow for appropriate offloading and healing. This may include what is called manual therapy techniques such as joint or soft tissue mobilization. This is where your PT uses specific techniques on your bone, muscles, ligaments and fascia in order to break adhesions and optimize your function. Our team of PT’s are certified orthopedic manual therapists which means they are specialists in these hands-on techniques. They understand surprising influences such as how restrictions in surrounding joints can add undue stress to the knee joint. They will address these important non painful elements that are often overlooked such as the low back, pelvis, or hips and even down at the ankles.
• Graded strength, dynamic stability, and capacity training targeting the quads, glutes, hamstrings, foot/ankle complex, and core. Strength training of the quads and glutes as part of a knee pain treatment plan has been shown to be highly effective with regard to reduction of pain, and it mitigates the risk of recurrence/ flare-ups in the future.
• Restoring range of motion in the knee. A knee with poor range of motion that is constantly flexed can cause persistent painful symptoms. Restoring range of motion will help it bend easier and ease stress on the knee, thus relieving pain.
• Graded exposure to previously painful activities, as gains in strength, tolerance, and capacity allow.
• Education regarding activity modification and the role of the nervous system in pain.
What can I do to avoid knee injury and keep knees healthy?
1. Maintain mobility of the surrounding joints. The knee is a hinge joint which is primarily supposed to bend and straighten. This is different from its surrounding joints such as the ankle and hip which should naturally have the ability rotate and move in many different directions. If the hip or ankles are tight or limited this often causes unnatural stress and twisting at the knee. Lack of hip extension (aka tight hip flexors) is often a BIG problem for knee pain sufferers. We can get tight in these areas especially if we sit for long periods of time.
2. Keep the muscles around your hips and knees strong, especially the gluteal and quadricep muscles. Studies show that adults (especially those 55 or older) who have stronger gluteal and quadricep muscles tend to have less knee pain and a greater ability to perform daily activities while keeping their knees healthy.
3. Exercise regularly. While this is good for the whole body, the knees especially need exercise to keep their cartilage healthy. The cartilage does not have much blood supply and requires its nutrition from joint fluid. Most of the joint fluid absorbs into the cartilage only through movement and compression of the knee. Therefore, it is important to do weight bearing exercises, such as walking, running, or playing a sport. However, if you have arthritis, it is advised that you do activities with less of an impact, such as biking, elliptical machines, or aquatic exercises, to avoid knee injury.
Sometimes knee pain shows up without any prior injuries o it’s important to take note of our daily activites and how they affect our knee health. Here are some additional tips on how you can deal with knee pain.
Contact us today! Are you living with knee pain? If so, don’t hesitate to contact Panetta Physical Therapy today. We’ll help relieve your pain so you can get back to living your life comfortably, without limitations!