Knee pain is very common and can interfere with everyday activities, because your knee plays an important role in your movement and in many actions required for sports. There are a variety of healthcare professionals who can help you relieve this pain and restore your knee’s normal functioning.
Why does your knee hurt?
Knee pain can be caused by a sudden injury, such as a blow, a fall, or making an awkward move. It can also occur over time due to repetitive movements or a change in your lifestyle, for example.
The knee is an injury-prone joint whose stability relies largely on its ligaments and menisci, structures that provide poor resistance to twisting movements. Having strong muscles helps improve this stability to prevent injury.
What are the main causes of knee pain?
Many diagnoses are associated with knee pain. Consulting a physiotherapist will help you fully understand which structures are affected and what you can do to promote healing.
What are the symptoms of a sprained knee?
A sprain, commonly known as a “strain”, is an injury to one or more ligaments, the structures that connect bones together and provide joint stability. Depending on the severity of the injury, the ligament may be stretched, partially torn, or completely torn.
Typical symptoms of a knee sprain are a feeling of joint instability and pain, present both when bending and unbending the knee and when changing direction. Depending on which ligament is affected, the pain may be in the knee, on the inner side or on the outer side. You may also notice swelling (edema) or bruising.
The healing time for a sprain varies depending on the ligament affected and the severity of the injury, but is generally between 4 and 12 weeks.
Can you walk with a sprain? Generally yes, by remaining attentive to pain signals. As soon as the pain increases, it is a sign that you need to take a break. If the pain is very strong when you put weight on the injured leg, using crutches is recommended and you should consult a doctor to ensure that there is no fracture.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee?
Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joint. It is a normal aging process that does not always cause symptoms. When they do occur, the most common symptoms are discomfort, stiffness, pain and crackling in the knee. When the osteoarthritis is a little more significant, swelling, a feeling of friction and a slight deformation (widening of the joint) may also occur.
Is it good to walk with osteoarthritis of the knee? Yes! Staying active is key to nourishing your joints and preventing stiffness. However, you need to heed your symptoms. Limit activities that cause pain, and keep those that you tolerate well as much as possible. If in doubt, a physiotherapist will tell you which ones are best to limit your discomfort, depending on your situation.
What is patellofemoral syndrome?
Patellofemoral syndrome, or “runner’s knee,” is an irritation of the cartilage, the tissue that covers the femur and patella in the knee.
It’s a common injury after heavy and unusual exertion, such as a long hike, repeated jumps, or going for a run as a new runner. Experienced runners are also prone to this injury when training parameters, such as distance, intensity or speed, are increased too quickly. Patellofemoral syndrome can also develop in young women during adolescence, due to the change in morphology that alters the angle of the knee and the pressure on the patella.
Although the causes of patellofemoral syndrome vary from person to person, the symptoms are always essentially the same: widespread pain in the front of the knee that increases when climbing stairs or walking on sloped ground, when in a squatting position or on your knees, or after a long period of sitting.
A daily exercise program consisting of muscle activation, strengthening and stabilization helps heal the tissue and significantly reduces the duration of symptoms.
How to tell if you have iliotibial band syndrome?
The iliotibial band is a large band of fibrous tissue that connects the hip to the tibia on the outer side of the thigh. It helps keep the knee stable. Iliotibial band syndrome is caused by too much friction of the band on the knee’s bony surface.
The pain is usually experienced on the outer side of the knee, mainly when it is slightly bent. For athletes, it is often caused by an increase in training parameters, such as intensity or distance. It occurs frequently in runners and cyclists.
What are the symptoms of knee bursitis?
A typical symptom of bursitis is a warm, diffuse pain in the knee, which may be constant and keep you awake at night. Your knee movements can be painful, and you may also observe swelling in the affected knee.
Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled pad located in the joint. The bursa reduces the friction between the tendons and the bones of the knee. This type of injury can be caused by a fall on the joint, prolonged compression (for example, staying on the knees for a long time) or repeated and unusual muscle contraction.
How to know if you have knee tendinitis?
Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon, the structure that connects muscle to bone, after a shock or a large and unusual muscle contraction. It is often confused with the more common tendinosis, which is chronic tendon irritation often caused by repetitive movements. Several tendons in the knee, which attach the thigh muscles to the tibia (the patellar tendon or the “goose foot” tendons, for example), may be affected.
A typical symptom of tendinopathy (tendinitis or tendinosis) in the knee is a sharp pain that occurs during or after physical exertion, such as walking, running, or climbing stairs, sometimes accompanied by swelling (edema). Depending on which tendon is affected, the pain may be localized on the inner side of the knee, around the patella or near the tibia.
How to tell if your meniscus is torn?
When a meniscus is torn, the pain is often at the joint, where the femur and tibia meet. In some cases, this pain may spread over a larger area. You might also feel a lock in your knee, another common symptom of a torn meniscus.
The menisci of the knee serve as shock absorbers and increase the knee’s stability. Each knee has two: the inner side and the outer side. To injure a meniscus, an extreme flexion, extension or twisting movement must occur while the foot is on the ground.
Should a torn meniscus be operated on? The vast majority of meniscus tears heal well with physical therapy treatments. In some cases, in the presence of persistent pain or blockage, surgery may be considered.
What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a bony growth that develops on the front of the tibia, below the knee, where the patellar tendon attaches. In the beginning, there is also inflammation at the site of the lesion.
It appears in adolescence, more often in athletes and boys. At some stage of growth, the muscles in front of the thigh become stronger than the bone. When these muscles are used a lot, as in certain sports, the body can react by producing more bone at the point of attachment.
If not treated properly, the bony growth can continue to grow and make the kneeling position permanently uncomfortable or even painful. As soon as pain or a bony point appears on the tibia, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. Physiotherapy treatments provide very good results and help relieve pain by releasing pressure on the knee. Taping (adhesive tapes glued to the skin) and orthoses can be used temporarily to maintain a certain level of athletic activity.
How is knee pain treated?
Expert advice: Regulate your activities and ensure you do a warm-up
After a knee injury, avoid painful activities for a few days. Afterwards, it is important to start moving again, because movement is the best way to promote healing. It is normal to feel some pain, but make sure it doesn’t increase significantly during or after your activity.
For athletes, it is essential to warm up longer than usual (for at least 10 minutes) before beginning the activity, in order to properly prepare the injured knee to handle the demands of your athletic activity.
Which professional should you consult?
Different professionals often work together to maximize results. If in doubt, we recommend that you first consult a physiotherapist so that they can assess your needs and the treatments required for the specific condition of your knee. If necessary, they will recommend the right professional(s) to consult in order to best optimize your rehabilitation.
Why consult a physiotherapist?
After a thorough evaluation of your knee, a physiotherapist will explain which structures are affected and offer you a treatment plan based on your goals. Different options can be considered such as exercises specific to your condition, joint mobilizations, muscle relaxation techniques, etc. Your physiotherapist will also give you advice on how to relieve pain and how to resume your activities.
Why consult an occupational therapist?
An occupational therapist will assess the impact of your knee condition on your usual abilities such as work, household chores and hobbies. Their treatments, which can take the form of strengthening exercises or work task simulations, for example, will help you maximize your autonomy at each stage of your recovery.
Why consult an osteopath?
Using different manual techniques, an osteopath will treat mobility restrictions that can affect all the structures of your body (bones, muscles, ligaments, viscera, etc.) that are related to your knee. Improved mobility helps your body recover better and decreases pain.
Why consult a massage therapist?
A massage therapist will focus mainly on releasing tension in the superficial and deep tissues that affect your knee to help you reduce pain and move more freely. Their treatments will also help increase blood circulation to promote a better recovery.
Why consult an acupuncturist?
Through various techniques and by using therapeutic tools such as needles and suction cups, an acupuncturist will work to reduce pain, stress, muscle tension and inflammation that can occur following a knee injury.
Why consult a kinesiologist?
Following their assessment of your knee’s ability to move and your physical condition, a kinesiologist will teach you exercises adapted for you so that you can resume your activities.