Knee Pain Causes & Treatments
Common Causes of Knee Pain
If you’re suffering from persistent knee pain, know that you’re not alone. In fact, knee pain and injury leads more Americans to their physicians and chiropractors than any other musculoskeletal condition. We use our knees a lot in day to day life, and we expect a lot of them. Unfortunately, that also means that as we get older, our knees become more and more likely to suffer from pain and discomfort.
The knee is the body’s largest joint, and it supports all kinds of movement, from simple walking and stair-climbing to lifting heavy objects and complex athletic activities. As such, it’s more vulnerable to injury and symptoms of arthritis than most other parts of the body.
At PMR, we frequently treat patients who are suffering from knee pain, knee injury, discomfort, and limited range of motion. In some cases, all the knee needs is a little rest and relaxation. In others, surgery may be necessary. However, most patients will see improvement from non-invasive modalities, including physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and massage.
For more information on the possible causes of your knee pain and how they might be treated and ameliorated by the specialists at PMR, read on.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that causes bones to rub against one another, leading to pain, discomfort, and problems with movement. The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is particularly common among older adults, especially women. It can cause pain in several areas of the body, but commonly affects the knees. Osteoarthritis (and other forms of arthritis) have no cure, but many forms of treatment are available, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, nutritional counseling, and massage.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears & Other Ligament Injuries
The ligaments in the knee are often susceptible to injury, either from overexertion or common everyday activity. ACL tears are the most common injury, but tears of other ligaments in the knee, as well as strains and sprains, are possible as well. In many cases, these injuries will require surgery, though not always. Physical therapy and other modalities may be employed as part of the recovery process.
Each knee contains menisci (both lateral and medial), which is a segment of cartilage that protects the knee when it twists and turns. Physical activity (think basketball) often leads to meniscus tears, which are common injuries. Many meniscus injuries can be treated through chiropractic modalities, though some will also require surgery.
Tendinitis, sometimes also spelled tendonitis, is a condition that involves pain and inflammation of the tendons, which connect muscle to bone. Physical activity and injuries may aggravate the pain, but in some cases it will occur anyways. Tendinitis, including its symptoms of pain and tenderness, can be greatly improved with the assistance of chiropractic specialists, and will generally become significantly better following an appropriate course of treatment, such as those applied at PMR.
Bursitis is less common in the knee area than in other parts of the body, but can affect any joint. Bursitis may be particularly painful, and can get in the way of normal movement. Chiropractic modalities are often successful in treating the symptoms of bursitis
How Can Knee Problems Be Prevented or Controlled?
If you’re not suffering from serious knee pain yet, but are worried that you may be in the future, consider this: many knee problems are related to wear and tear or overuse, and can be avoided with simple precautions, especially for older adults, athletes, and runners. These same tips may also apply to those already suffering from knee pain related to overuse.
For athletes and runners (and we’re not just talking about professionals!), who are particularly susceptible to knee problems and injury, always remember to perform both static and dynamic stretches to keep the joint limber and get blood flowing before physical activity. Wear protection if necessary (think shin guards or knee pads) and avoid overexerting yourself.
In everyday life, start by practicing safe habits: for example, wearing a helmet while biking or your seat belt when driving. Overweight or obese adults will benefit greatly from losing even a few pounds (some experts suggest that each pound of fat adds four pounds of stress to the knee joint).
Also, wear comfortable, cushioned shoes, and avoid high heels whenever possible. Finally, if your lifestyle requires lots of climbing up and down stairs, see if an escalator or elevator is a viable option instead.
Treatment for Knee Pain & Injury
Here at PMR, our treatments are individualized, comprehensive, and holistic. We don’t treat any two patients the same way, which means that for those suffering from knee pain and injury, the course of treatment will have as much to do with the patient’s unique history, concerns, and goals as it will with the condition itself.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the modalities most commonly applied in the treatment of knee complaints.
Physical therapy is crucially important in treating most knee problems, especially injuries – and following surgery. However, note that while many patients suffering from knee injuries – for example, ACL tears or meniscus tears – many believe surgery to be their only option, research suggests that physical therapy is often just as effective in treating the knee over the long term as surgical options.
At PMR, our highly trained physical therapists will work with you to develop a course of treatment that meets your goals and is effective for the long term.
Chiropractic manipulation is one of the most effective methods available for treating knee pain, and can alleviate the pain right at its source. Most commonly, chiropractors will aim to reduce inflammation and swelling in the knee joint and to restore the knee to its normal range of motion.
Beyond physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation, we have several modalities available to us at PMR that may be employed as part of your treatment plan. These include acupuncture and massage, which are often successful in reducing or eliminating pain, as well as electrical stimulation, cold laser therapy, and ultrasound techniques. In some cases, patients may benefit from nutritional counseling as well – for example, to lose weight (thereby reducing the stress on the knees) or to aid with osteoarthritis.
Are knee problems holding you back from enjoying life on your own terms? Contact the experts at PMR today – your knees will thank you!