The knee joins the thigh to lower leg. It is one of the biggest joints in the body.
Knee Problems Overview
The knee joins the thigh to lower leg. It is one of the biggest joints in the body comprised of bones and other important structures such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage and fluid sacs; all which work together to allow the knee to move and bend smoothly.
Damage or degeneration to any of the structures of the knee can impair or restrict your ability to walk, kneel, bend and twist. Pain and loss of mobility in your knee can impair your ability to carry on with your typical activities of daily living. For the athlete or active patient, that pain and limited mobility can be devastating.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
Also referred to as degenerative joint disease (DJD), arthritis of the knee as common as it is debilitating. While there is no cure for DJD there are many treatment options available to preserve joint strength, range of motion, and function while reducing pain.
Common Causes of Knee Arthritis:
- Age-related cartilage wear-and-tear
- Trauma (Fracture involving the joint surface)
Common Signs and Symptoms of Knee Arthritis:
- Difficulty bending or flexing
- Grating or grinding sensation/noise
- Pain (especially with activity, relieved with rest)
- Difficulty going up or down stairs
Ligament Sprains (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL)
Ligaments are the structures that connect bones to adjacent bones and provides essential stability to the joints throughout the body. The ligaments of the knee are susceptible to sprains and tearing from a wide variety of activities and are often vulnerable to trauma. With proper management, physical therapy can help to restore normal flexibility and durability to the ligaments of the knee while also reducing the potential for future knee injury.
Common Causes of Ligament Sprains of the Knee:
- High-impact collision or direct blow
- Incorrect landing
- Slowed pace while running
- Sports injuries (especially soccer, football, basketball)
- Sudden stopping or directional change
- Possibly pelvic or lower leg alignment (in females)
Common Signs and Symptoms of Ligament Sprains of the Knee:
- Feeling of instability or “giving out”
- Some difficulty and discomfort with walking and range of motion
The knee’s shock absorbers are the medial and lateral meniscus. They function to help lubricate the knee joint and prevent the knee from hyperextending. A wrong twist of the knee or an accidental overflexing can tear this important joint cartilage.
Common Cause of Meniscus Tears:
- Age-related degeneration
- Forceful bending
- Sports injuries
- Sudden twisting
Common Signs and Symptoms of Meniscus Tears:
- Difficulty or inability to squat
- Limited range of motion
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
70 percent of all runners will experience some type of injury. This one, “Runner’s Knee,” is the most common. Despite being relatively common amongst runners this disorder can be easily misdiagnosed. Early evaluation and intervention by a trained physical therapist can help to reduce pain and dysfunction while also decreasing the potential for arthritic changes from prolonged injury.
Common Causes of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome:
- Flat feet
- Misalignment of the patella
- Tight or weak muscles (hamstrings, calf, thigh)
Common Signs and Symptoms of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome:
- Pain (especially after prolonged sitting or walking downhill)
- Sensation of “giving way”
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