What is causing my knee pain?
There is no single cause for painful knee joints. Of course, the most obvious factor is a traumatic injury, such as falling hard on the knee joint, or being struck on or near the knee. Traumatic injuries usually happen suddenly and with great force.
On the other hand, chronic injuries (like osteoarthritis) develop over a longer period of time, and are often the result of repeated stress to the knee. This stress can cause the knee joints to move out of normal alignment; in some cases, your kneecaps may either be closer to each other (“knock kneed”) or farther apart than they should be (“bow legged”). Other possible reasons for chronic injuries may include obesity, ligament weakness, not having enough protection from heel-strike shock, foot/ankle problems, improper exercise or lifting techniques, etc. Organic conditions would include infections and tumors.
Your Sports Medicine Podiatrist will give you a thorough examination — which may include range of motion (ROM), looking for possible alignment/tracking problems with video gait analysis, and testing for signs of muscle or ligament weakness — to help determine the cause of your knee pain. In some cases you may be referred for an X-ray or other image to confirm diagnosis or help identify the exact degree of intervention.
What could be causing my poor knee alignment?
The knee is actually two joints involving three bones: the larger weight-bearing “hinge” joint between the femur and tibia bones, and a smaller joint between the femur and patella (“kneecap”). As a hinge joint, the healthy knee bends in one plane of motion much more than it rotates, although some rotation is involved during the gait (walking and running) cycle. In a normal posture, the kneecaps point straight ahead over the feet. This is the knee posture which gives the most support to the hips and spine.
Problems occur when a knee becomes misaligned, and one cause for this can originate in the foot/ankle. If one or both feet has a structural problem (“flat feet”, high arch, weak ankles, for example), this condition can cause the leg to rotate improperly, which in turn produces stress on the knee. As knee muscles and ligaments weaken, the joint may begin to move out of its proper position – potentially wearing out certain structures more than the other. These imbalances often result in a “ripple effect”, which can affect the hips, low back, and neck. That’s why you’ll often encounter people whose back started hurting after he/she began having knee problems.
How can Auckland Sports Podiatry Help me with my Knee Pain?
Again, depending on the diagnosis of your condition, your Sports Podiatry professional has treatment programs to help restore your knee(s) to normal function.
Basically, a three-step program is often recommended for knee joint troubles:
- Strategic mobilization of the knee joint for proper alignment and preservation of range of motion.
- Exercise to build muscle strength and joint stability.
- Possible use of Custom foot orthotics to help reduce excessive internal/external rotation, also help absorb heel-strike shock.
- Developing knee muscles helps to stabilize the joint and lower the incidence of further serious injury.
Your Sports Medicine Podiatrist may also prescribe therapeutic exercises to help you rebuild strength in the knee area. Often these exercises can be done either in your work place or in your own home.
Balanced support, stability, and proper movement are the keys to a healthy knee structure. Ask your Sports Medicine Podiatrist or other health professionals if you would benefit from Customised orthotics.