Knee Pain: Symptoms, Causes & Prevention

What causes knee pain?

Knee pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including acute injury from trauma,  or overuse/misuse/repetitive trauma leading to repetitive stress syndromes. Regardless of the cause, an aching knee can be very debilitating and can interfere with your daily activities.

An integrated rehabilitative approach and advanced techniques can help alleviate knee soreness, restore mobility, increase strength and coordination, and often avoid unnecessary medications and surgery.  In this blog, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms and what you need to know to treat it with physical therapy, and the advanced techniques and procedures available to you.

There are many different types of knee pain, and the appropriate treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Here are some of the most common causes:

  1. Injuries: Injuries to the knee can cause pain and swelling. Some common knee injuries include ligament tears, tendon tears, meniscus tears, myofascial damage, and fractures. These injuries can occur from sports activities, falls, and accidents.
  2. Arthritis: Arthritis is a common cause of knee pain, particularly in older adults. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects the knee, but rheumatoid arthritis and other types of arthritis can also cause it.
  3. Overuse: Overuse injuries can cause pain in the knee, particularly in athletes and people who engage in repetitive activities that place stress on the knee joint. Over time, this micro-trauma leads to a mechanical imbalance and can lead to knee degeneration and tears. 
  4. Obesity: Carrying excess weight can put extra pressure on the knee joint, leading to pain and discomfort. Chronic whole-body inflammation is common when we are overweight, which can also lead to metabolic pain syndromes in the knee and other joints.
  5. Tendinitis: Tendons are the tough, fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon, which can cause pain and tenderness in the knee.

Knee Pain Symptoms

The symptoms of knee pain can vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some common symptoms include:

  1. Pain: the pain in the knee can range from mild to severe and can be felt on the front, back, or sides of the knee.
  2. Swelling: Swelling around and inside the knee joint is a common symptom of an aching knee.
  3. Stiffness: Knee pain can cause stiffness in the joint, making it difficult to bend or straighten the knee.
  4. Instability: Knee pain can cause a feeling of instability or weakness in the knee joint, leading to future degenerative disease/arthritis. 
  5. Clicking or popping: Some people with knee pain may experience clicking or popping sounds when they move their knee joint.

What can I do to relieve knee pain?

Integrated rehabilitation and advanced techniques can help alleviate knee pain, restore mobility, restore strength, and in some cases regenerate damaged tissue. Here are some of the most effective treatment options for sore knees:

  1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that can be very effective in treating knee pain. Your Doctor of Physical Therapy will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include exercises to improve strength and coordination, as well as manual therapy to reduce pain and restore the normal range of motion. An experienced Doctor should always work at the adjacent joints, as the knee is a weight-bearing joint. It is quite common for foot/ankle and/or low back/pelvis imbalance can lead to knee conditions.
  2. Interventional orthopedic procedures/injections can be effective in reducing pain and inflammation in the knee joint. Knee joint injections can include joint injections to aspirate(drain) or deliver medication: such as low-dose cortisone(anti-inflammatory) and/or visco-supplementatio(joint lubricant). Additionally, trigger point(muscle) injections are very effective in breaking up chronic muscular knots(trigger points) and relieving acute muscle spasms. 
  3. Regenerative Medicine/ Orthobiologics: Regenerative medicine techniques, such as prolo-ozone, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, and bone-marrow-derived stem cell therapy, can be effective in treating knee pain caused by acute injury or arthritis. These techniques use the body’s own natural healing processes to promote tissue repair and regeneration.

Knee pain management

Preventing a knee ache is always better than treating it. Here are some tips to help prevent pain in the knee:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is important for preventing knee pain, as excess weight puts extra pressure on the knee joint. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce chronic whole-body inflammation. Remember, you are what you eat, and unhealthy food can lead to chronic knee and degenerative changes.
  2. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, reducing the risk of injury and pain. Low-impact exercises, such as Pilates, Yoga, swimming and cycling, can be particularly beneficial for people with knee pain. Remember, motion is life.
  3. Wear Proper Footwear: Wearing proper footwear that provides adequate support can help reduce stress on the knee joint during physical activity. Using worn-out/uneven shoes with your bad motion habits can lead to repetitive knee conditions due to foot/ankle misalignments.
  4. Use Proper Technique: When engaging in physical activity, it is important to use proper technique to avoid putting undue stress on the knee joint. This is particularly important for athletes who engage in high-impact activities. Consider wearing a brace if you have suffered from a previous knee in a sport, to avoid re-injury.
  5. Take Breaks: If you engage in activities that require you to be on your feet for long periods of time, taking breaks can help reduce stress on the knee joint and prevent pain.
  6. Stretching/Flexibility: Stretching and active range of motion exercises can help improve flexibility in the knee joint. Some simple stretches include hamstring stretches, quadriceps stretches, and calf stretches. Don’t forget to keep your feet, hips, and pelvis flexible as well.
  7. Strengthening/Coordinated: Strengthening and balance exercises can help improve the stability of the knee joint. Some examples include squats, lunges, and leg lifts. Don’t forget to keep your feet, low back/core strong and coordinated.

In conclusion, knee pain can be very debilitating to your active life, but there are many treatment options available to help alleviate pain and restore mobility. Integrated rehabilitation/physical therapy and advanced techniques/procedures, such as regenerative medicine, can be very effective in treating knee soreness. Preventing a sore knee through healthy lifestyle choices and proper technique during physical activity is always better than treating it after it occurs. If you are experiencing an aching knee, it is important to see a doctor to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

At Physio Logic we offer a variety of treatments within the Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Interventional Orthopedic/Regenerative Medicine where we can develop customized care plans and get you back to doing what you love! 

Don’t let knee pain hold you back. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and start your journey toward a pain-free life.

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Other terms: PFPS (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: a condition that causes pain around the kneecap, often exacerbated by activities such as running, jumping, or climbing stairs), Gonagalgia (a medical term used to describe pain in the knee joint)