Knee pain is one of the most common clinical complaints we see – especially among athletes.
The knee is a complex structure that includes bones and cartilages, the menisci (disc like structures within the joint), ligaments and tendons. Four bones contribute to the knee, including the patella (kneecap), the femur (thigh bone), the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). Pain and dysfunction can occur at any of the joints between these bones or in the surrounding structures.
There is often a link between seemingly distant structures and knee pain. Examples of this include hamstring weakness, which can predispose you to meniscus injuries or stiffness at the hip or ankle which can also change your knee function and result in overload of the tendons and ligaments around the knee.
Who it affects
Knee problems can occur as a result of excessive loading without the required conditioning, so we often see knee injuries in people who are starting new sports or who are increasing the frequency and intensity of their training. We also see knee issues arise in people who do not use their knees efficiently, which can occur as a result of trauma or altered biomechanics.
Age and inactivity related change is also very common in the knees of older patients, and often manifests as arthritic or degenerative type problems like pain and stiffness with rest.
What we do about it
Staying active and performing safe exercises during the early stages of knee injury provides better long term outcomes and shorter lived pain than bed rest or avoidance, so an early visit to an allied health professional such as an osteopath, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can help to relieve acute pain, keep you functional and get you on track to recovery.