What Can I Do For Knee Pain?

By Moses Jacob, DC
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Male with Knee Pain

Knee Pain Overview

The knee joint is comprised of the connection of four bones of the lower extremity:

  • Femur ( thigh bone)
  • Tibia (shin bone)
  • Fibula ( smaller, next to tibia)
  • Patella ( knee cap).

Bones are connected by ligaments. In the knee joint these include the medial and lateral meniscus, the cruciate ligaments ( for anterior/posterior stability) and the medial and lateral co-laterals (offering side stability).

Movement at the knee joint is performed by several muscle groups. Extending- motion from bent to straight is done by the anterior surface of the thigh, the four muscles of the quadriceps femoris group.

The quadriceps tendon, also helps form the patella tendon. Flexion or bending of the knee is performed by the hamstring muscle group.

Knee pain may occur from specific event e. g. tripping or falling, activities including running or competitive sports e. g. tennis, football, or basketball.

Knee injury may result in pain and dysfunction of any of the soft tissue structures i.e. ligaments, muscles and their tendons. Knee Pain if often the result of the bodies inflammatory processes due to direct or repetitive trauma.

Knee Pain Treatment Options

  • Acute treatment: Remember RICE: R-est, I-ce, C-ompression, and E-levation
  • Over the counter pain medication, or analgesic salves eg. Bengay or Tiger Balm. Moist heat may increased blood flow and promotes healing.
  • Conservative care options include: patient education, hands-on therapy such as joint mobilization, massage, muscle balancing, therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises.
  • Physical medicine modalities include ultrasound for calcific tendinitis; TENS – transcutaneous electro-muscle stimulator; or laser light- to reduce inflammation.
  • Other approaches include unloading the knee with supportive braces, or shoe insoles.
  • For some with a high BMI, weight loss is recommended.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is another nonsurgical intervention for reducing the pain of patients with degenerative knee arthritis and improving these patients’ function.
  • Some providers also employ kinesiology taping methods which have been shown to be effective.

Over time or due to repeated knee injuries, some patients develop knee joint osteoarthritis (OA), also called “wear and tear arthritis.” OA may affect different compartments of the knee joint. OA may range from slight to advanced and adversely affect activities of daily living e.g. walking or stair climbing. Conservative Treatment options may also include strengthening exercises, e.g. stationary bicycle, or weight training. For some, pain injections may become an option. Surgery ranging from arthroscopy to knee replacement may become necessary for more serious knee joint problems.

Reference sources: 1) Lee K et al. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Jan; The effects of kinesiology taping therapy on degenerative knee arthritis patients’ pain, function, and joint range of motion. 2) Lee JH. Phys Ther Sci. 2017 Mar; 29(3): 536–538. The effects of extracorporeal shock wave therapy on the pain and function of patients with degenerative knee arthritis.

Moses Jacob, DC
Author: Moses Jacob, DC