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Got Knee Pain?

This May Be Why

Knee pain when bending, jumping, walking or even sitting is more common than you think – especially in athletes or otherwise active individuals. The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body, and therefore, one of the most susceptible areas to injury. The knee serves a myriad of functions, such as: 

  • Supports body weight
  • Absorbs shock
  • Helps leg rotation
  • Provides stability 
  • Enables body movement

Knee pain can be caused by an acute injury, repetitive use, or an underlying condition. 

Knee Anatomy

The knee serves to connect the femur in your thigh to the tibia in your shin. Other bones in the knee are the fibula, which is a small bone that runs alongside the tibia, and the patella, also called the kneecap. 

Along with bones, the knee has numerous muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some prominent ligaments that provide stability to the knee and are vulnerable to injury include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Meniscus Tears

The meniscus is found twice in both knees and is a small piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. The meniscus serves to protect the articular cartilage and helps to distribute weight evenly across the knee. Meniscus tears are common, especially among athletes who play sports with twisting, turning, or pivoting motions, and older adults whose tendons have weakened over time. 

Meniscus tears have different treatment options, depending on 

  • Type, size, and location 
  • Your age
  • Your level of activity and lifestyle
  • Related injuries 
  • Severity of symptoms

Surgery may remove or repair the torn meniscus, but fortunately, not every meniscus injury needs surgery. Before recommending surgery, your physical therapist may suggest rehabilitative exercises, anti-inflammatory injections, or rest. 

ACL Tears

The anterior cruciate ligament, known as the ACL, is a small band that crosses from the back part of the femur to the front part of the tibia bone. The ACL works with the PCL and the MCL to stabilize the knee by limiting rotational and forward movement of the tibia. 

Tears of the ACL are fairly common in athletes who play sports that involve turning, cutting, and pivoting motions. ACL tears can be very severe, and they usually require a reconstruction surgery. There are three different kinds of ACL reconstructions:

  • Autograft: uses the patient’s own tissue from somewhere in their body 
  • Allograft: replaces the ACL with tissue from someone else
  • Synthetic graft: restores the ACL with artificial materials 

Following an ACL reconstruction, your recovery will include pain management, wound care, a form of walking assistance, and an emphasis on rehabilitation. Completing rehabilitation exercises prescribed by a certified physical therapist will be essential to your recovery process. Rehabilitation serves to restore mobility and strength to your knee. For athletes, rehabilitation allows you to gradually return to competitive play.

Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis is a common injury that causes irritation and inflammation in the tendon that connects your patella to your shinbone. This tendon allows you to kick, run, and jump, meaning athletes who jump frequently in their sport are very likely to develop this condition. 

Although primarily caused by repetitive stress, some other contributing factors include: 

  • Obesity
  • Inadequate shoes
  • Misaligned feet, ankles, or legs
  • Uneven leg strength
  • Tight leg muscles
  • Hard playing surface

Physical Therapy Treatments for Knee Pain

Fortunately, physical therapy may reduce many of the symptoms associated with knee pain. Whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, our certified doctors of physical therapy are ready to help you regain mobility and live pain-free. 

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