Physical Therapy Relief for Knee Pain

Pain Management

Physical Therapy Relief for Knee Pain & Muscle Fascia Tightness

What are the Causes of Knee Pain?

Knee Pain and surrounding muscle pain and stiffness are symptoms that many of us will experience at some point in our life.  It can be caused by any number of reasons but the post-common is due to an accident, sports, and exercise-related incidents. These situations can cause tendinitis, muscle strain or serious injuries to cartilage and ligaments in and around the knee.  It’s not uncommon that a leading factor to knee pain and strains results from an imbalance of the muscles that surround the knee joint, weakness, lack of flexibility causing muscle tightness are some of the causative factors contributing to injuries to the knee.

Below are additional reasons for prolonged and/or significant knee pain.  

Torn Ligament: tear in one of the four ligaments in the knee — the most commonly injured ligament is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

Meniscus Tear: a rupture in one or more of the cartilage in the knee

Osteoarthritis: pain, inflammation, and joint destruction caused by degeneration and deterioration of the joint

Dislocation: dislocation of the kneecap most often the result of trauma (sports or accident related)

Tendinitis: pain in the front of the knee that is made worse when climbing, taking stairs, or walking up an incline

Bursitis: inflammation caused by repeated overuse or injury of the knee

Chondromalacia Patella: damaged cartilage under the kneecap

Baker’s Cyst: a buildup of synovial fluid (fluid that lubricates the joint) behind the knee

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes painful swelling and can eventually cause joint deformity and bone erosion.

Sometimes knee pain can be chronic in nature that causes a hindrance in our daily life and the way we go about life.  It’s important that you care for your knees irrespective of the cause so that you can live an active and healthy life.  Physical therapy can help in relieving and even eliminating knee pain for any of the causations above but the first step is diagnosing the root cause and seeking help from professionals in your community.

Knee Anatomy – What are the Key Parts of Your Knee?

The knee is composed of the femur (thighbone), the tibia and fibula (shin bone, and the outer side of the shin), and patella (knee cap). The knee joint is a hinge joint which allows for one-way movement (bending and extending). The knee joint allows for weight bearing and movement.  

Knee Joint Diagram to assist with Knee Pain Physical Therapy Solutions provided by Virginian Physical Therapy and Staffing in Sterling, VA 20165The knee is composed of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscle, joint capsule, and bursa.

There are two types of cartilage; meniscus and articular cartilage. The meniscus is a crescent-shaped disc which allows for shock absorption and a cushion allowing for a range of motion and it keeps the bone from rubbing against each other. It allows for weight distribution between the femur and tibia.

The meniscus is composed of two, medial, lateral. The medial is located in the inner side of the knee and is also larger than the lateral.  

Lateral is located in the outer side of the knee.

Image By OpenStax College

Articular cartilage is a thin layer of cartilage located in the femur, tibia, and back of the patella. It is a shock absorber which allows bones to move smoothly over one another.

There are four types of ligaments that keep from moving too much and allows for stability. Ligaments are strong fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone.

The ACL ( anterior cruciate ligament)- prevents the femur from sliding backward on the tibia and the tibia from sliding forward on the femur. It is also the most common injury.

The PCL (Posterior cruciate ligament)- prevents the femur from sliding forward on the tibia and tibia from sliding backward on the femur.

MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) prevent side to side movement of the femur.

Tendons are strong bands of soft tissue that attached to bone and muscles and provides stability to the joint. The patellar tendon runs along the thigh to the knee and attaches to the quadriceps muscle.  

Muscles that aid in knee movement consists of the quadriceps which are muscles in front of your knee and hamstrings which are located in the back of the knee. The quadriceps allow for extending movement, while the hamstring will allow you to bend your knee. Keeping this muscles in balance will help reduce pain on your knees.

The joint capsule surrounds the knee joint which is filled with liquid (synovial fluid). Its function is to provide lubrication and nutrition to the joint.

Bursa is a small filled fluid sac found in the knee joint which aids in preventing inflammation in the knee by reducing friction between the knees.

The knee has many functions; it keeps you upright, extends and bends the knee, twisting, provides stability, acts as a shock absorber, allows you to walk, lowers and raises the body, and allows you to propel forward.

How Does Physical Therapy Work in Treating Your Knee Pain?

Physical therapy will first evaluate you and ask you questions and performeda special test before setting up an individual treatment. A physical therapist will assess how you walk, touch different structures around the knee, assess a range of motion and strength take measurements, asses balance and check for any swelling. Common treatments are the used modalities, therapeutic exercises and stretching, gait training, body mechanics training, and manual therapy.

Physical therapy can help by improving flexibility, restoring strength and muscle balance, correct alignment, and technique. A supportive knee brace or an arch for the foot can help with supporting the joint and improve pain. It is recommended to participate in low impact activities and icing knee after exercise to reduce symptoms. After the evaluation has been completed physical therapist will provide a treatment plan to help improve mobility and strength by proving an exercise program that you will also follow at home. A physical therapist goal is to help you get back to your prior level of function and prevent disability.

Clare Conner on How  Physical Therapy Helped Eliminate Knee & Muscle Pain

About Clare Connor

Clare Conner is a 22 years old NPC Bikini Professional Athlete who started her fitness journey at the age of 3.  She has been involved in sports and pushed her body to extreme levels from age 3 through 16. Her relentless drive allowed her to excel in dance, soccer, gymnastics, and cheerleading but all of that came to complete stop at age 15 when she gained weight at a rapid pace up to 147 pounds.  Over the next couple of years, Clare went through some really hard times but luckily ended up falling in love with the gym and YouTube. This is where she found herself and who she was. Of course, when she was trying to lose weight rapidly, she did a ton of cardio and had to find a way to keep herself entertained and that is where she fell in love with YouTube fitness videos! Through YouTube she learned about The National Physique Committee (NPC)  and found her inner strength again to take up competitive sports. At age 21 Clare competed in her first NPC competition and couldn’t have been happier! Falling in love with something like this and the hard work of pushing her body is what drove her to want better in all aspects of her health and wellbeing.  This led Clare to Hamid and this facility at Virginian Physical Therapy and Staffing where she leverages various physical therapy procedures to gain her competitive edge.