22 Mar All You Need to Know About Knee Pain
- Have you had a persistent, dull ache in your knees?
- Do you suffer from knee pain when playing netball, soccer, basketball or doing a fitness class that involves jumping?
- Are you a runner/sportsperson who has aching knees?
- Do your knees ache every time you climb stairs?
If you’ve said yes to any or all of the above, you know only too well how knee pain can stop you in your tracks. Whether it’s a dull pain in the kneecap, or a sharp, acute pain in the knee, it needs to be sorted ASAP.
The knee is the body’s largest joint that connects the foot and lower leg to the hip and pelvis. It is made up of a number of bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and is used for most movement in our legs.
Each knee joint is a complex hinge where the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), fibula (next to tibia) and patella (kneecap) all come together. This hinge joint is held together by an intricate system of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscle and it’s precisely this complexity that makes our knees so susceptible to pain and injury. Here are some common knee injuries.
Patellofemoral syndrome or Runner’s Knee is characterised by dull pain in the front of the kneecap and often affects runners – hence the name. It may be caused by overtraining, poor alignment of the kneecap, or muscle weakness and imbalances. Symptoms include pain, and rubbing, grinding, or clicking sound of the kneecap. The first step is to identify the activity that caused this issue and take a break from it, followed by stretching and strength training.
Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of fascia (tendon) that runs along the outside of your leg. It connects from the top of your pelvic bone to just below your knee. Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when the connective tissue extending from the pelvic bone to the shinbone becomes so tight that it rubs against the thigh bone. If you’re an athlete experiencing aching or sharp pain on the outside of your knee, you might have a tight iliotibial band due to overuse. Treatment includes physiotherapy and corticosteroid injections.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common degenerative “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis. It is characterised by pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knees and makes it hard to do many everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are ways to manage the pain and stay active.
Osgood Schlatter’s Disease
This often affects growing teenagers, especially if they play sports. It’s an inflammation of the growth plate of the tibia (shin bone), which is situated just below the kneecap. Treatment includes taking a break from the activity, icing the area, using knee pads or a patellar tendon strap, and taking anti-inflammatory medicines.
Knee pain can be chronic, having gradually developed over time or sudden and acute. While we might blame our bad knees for our inability to do daily activities, quite often, it is likely to be some other issue that brings on this issue. Here are 3 things to consider.
Are your feet in alignment?
Check your feet when you stand. Do they roll in (pronate) or roll out (supinate)? Both cause undue stress on the knees.
Do your knees tend to track in or out?
Sit in a chair. Watch your knees as you sit down and get up from the chair. Are your knees in alignment or do they move in or roll out?
Do you have pain in your hips, outside of the thigh and/or back?
Hip and back pain coupled with knee pain can be a sign that there is a bigger issue – not just a problem with the knee.