Knee pain is very commonly seen in sports people and the elderly. More often than not knee pain is a result of either joint surface wear and tear due to repetition/age, cartilage or meniscal damage through sporting injuries or wear and tear or muscle strains in the thigh, hamstring and calf regions.
If the knee does not have time to recover between intensive sessions of exercise/sports/competition then it will slowly become inflamed and irritated. After years of this pattern, ‘wear and tear’ will develop and cartilage or meniscal damage will become more permanent.
If the knee has very sharp pain after a sporting training session/game then the possibility of genuine ligament, cartilage or muscle damage becomes greater. Rapid twisting or changing of directions in football, hockey, netball, basketball, rugby and racket sports may over stress these structures and require treatment.
Arthritic pains, which gradually develop over years often, give rise to symptoms such as morning stiffness, pain walking and pain bending the knees.
Muscle strains often result from overload of the muscles and tendons either from training or spontaneous game/competition situations. These are clear because moving the joint will cause pain in the muscle each time and you will begin to avoid specific movements.
Knee pain can also be referred from the lower back through compression of nerves that exit the spine or through the muscles controlling the hip.
Sharp pain bending the knee
Stiffness in the morning lasting 10-60 minutes
Weakness sensation up/down stairs or walking
Locking or ‘catching’ of the knee
Giving way of the knee
Constant aching within the joint
Grinding sensation within the knee
Swelling and/or redness of the knee itself
After examination of the spinal, hip, and ankle biomechanics and function, it will be evident if their involvement will require treatment. These areas can significantly impact the knee and in many cases are the root causes of knee pain.
If these areas require treatment see upper-mid back pain, low back pain, hip pain, and ankle pain.
Specific osteopathic mobilisation techniques and manipulation increase the mobility of the knee joint and improve the range of motion. Mobilisations also help to pump inflammation out the knee joint and further aid healing.
Restoring correct balance to the muscles of the thigh, hamstring and calf regions also help in reducing impact and strain the knee joint. This can be done through both soft and deep massage techniques and also specific muscle contraction and relaxation techniques.
Exercises to both increase the flexibility of the above mentioned muscle groups or to increase the strength may be required to improve knee function. If the muscles are too tight or too weak then the knee must absorb much greater pressure and so the joint surfaces will become more easily inflamed.
Hydrotherapy can rapidly remove inflammation within the joint and tendon structures. Alternatively hydrotherapy can be used to increase blood flow to the joint, muscles or tendons to promote healing and reduce recovery time.
As with all inflammatory conditions or joint injuries, nutritional intervention to maximise anti-inflammatory properties can provide great benefit. This is also very good at maintaining good joint health during times of high demand on knee loading (i.e. large hiking/walking trips, pre-season training and competition seasons) or in arthritic knees.