There are a variety of reasons your knees may be causing you pain. During our assessment, the focus will be on when your pain started, how it happened and what activities make it better or worse.
Knee injuries can be acute (recent, traumatic event!) or chronic so the physiotherapist will adjust their assessment based on how you answer their questions.
If it is acute then your therapist will assess ligaments, tendons and muscles to determine the diagnosis. If it is chronic pain then the therapist will focus on WHY you might be having the pain so they can find a permanent solution rather than just treating the symptoms.
Here are a few reasons you may be in pain but your therapist will be the one to assess your injury and create a treatment plan.
For chronic knee pain:
1) Postural dysfunction - Do your arches collapse and therefore bring the knees too close together? Do your knees collapse inwards when squatting?
If the answer is Yes to either of these questions then it might be your posture/alignment which is creating the pain. Frequently we do not realize what position our knees are in when we are moving around.
We also need to remember to assess the hips when there is knee pain because frequently hip weakness is contributing to your knee pain.
2) Poor body mechanics - Are you squatting incorrectly when lifting? Do you do repetitive lifting/pushing/pulling for long periods? Are you putting increased stress on your knees rather than your hips when climbing stairs or doing exercise?
If the answer is Yes to any of these questions then your body mechanics might be the cause of your pain!
3) Muscle weakness - frequently a lack in strength in certain muscles, especially the gluteal muscles, will contribute to knee pain. The therapist will need to assess those muscles to see which ones are the problem.
4) Muscle tightness - if certain muscles are too tight then they are not able to move in the proper patterns. A muscle that is too tight or too stretched can be a problem!
Who can help you?
What might be involved in their treatment?
- Assessment of movement and strength
- Gait assessment - watching you walk!
- Education - to teach you what is causing your pain and how to make it better as well as how to prevent it from returning in the future
- Exercises - teaching you how to do the proper exercises to decrease your pain and improve your strength and/or mobility
- Manual therapy - your therapist may need to release muscles or mobilize joints to improve their ability to move
- Referral back to family doctor for imaging or to a specialist - if the therapist feels there is a need for an Xray, U/S or MRI then they will contact your family physician to discuss it. They may also suggest a specialist's referral if treatment is not progressing as it should.