If you’re experiencing knee pain, you are not alone, as one in four Americans has experienced knee pain as well. Over the past 20 years, the prevalence of knee pain has increased.

As you may have experienced, knee pain can cause difficulty performing certain activities. The cause of knee pain can be a result of disease or an injury.

Knee pain can interfere with daily activities. But a physical therapist can help your pain by diagnosing the type of knee pain and providing a treatment plan.

What Is Knee Pain?

The knee is a complex system of ligaments and bones. The knee joint is a hinge joint and connects the tibia, your shinbone and the femur, your thigh bone, at the kneecap (patella).

There are four main ligaments in the knee joint: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). There are two rings that act as shock absorbers to help cushion the impact when you walk or run.

As you can see, there are several components to the knee, and so narrowing down what is causing your knee pain is important.

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of knee pain. It occurs when the articular cartilage wears away. This is the cartilage that protects the inside surface of the tibia and femur bones. This condition typically happens to individuals over the age of 50.

How Does It Feel?

You may experience knee pain slowly over time or suddenly for no reason. Because knees are a meeting point of several ligaments and bones, the pain can occur in different spots depending on what structure is involved.

Here is a short list to help identify what structure might be involved in your knee pain:

…Pain around the kneecap in front of the knee: This is called anterior knee pain, also referred to as patellofemoral pain. This typically happens due to an overuse injury, and pain occurs during activities like squats.

…Pain on the outside of the knee: This is called lateral knee pain. It is also an overuse injury and happens to runners. The iliotibial band (ITB) becomes irritated, and pain happens during activities.

…Pain along the inside of the knee: This is called medial knee and happens when the MCL or the medial meniscus become irritated due to direct injury or overuse. Pain is felt with activity.

…Immediate pain: This is caused by a ligament tear that may result from a direct blow to the knee or when twisting or pivoting the knee while the foot is planted on the ground. The knee will give out, making it difficult to stand.

…Pain anywhere in the knee: This is caused by osteoarthritis. It is likely to begin mildly and get progressively worse. It may be difficult to walk.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your physical therapist will conduct an evaluation that includes a review of your symptoms, medical history and physical examination. They may order an X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Some of the tests they perform will be to determine if you have:

…Pain or discomfort with bending or straightening your knee.

…Tenderness at the knee joint.

…Limited motion in your knee.

…Weakness in the muscles around your knee.

…Difficulty putting weight on your knee when standing or walking.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

Your physical therapist can develop a plan to help your symptoms. The plan will be customized for your specific injury or pain. The plan may include:

…Pain management. Your physical therapist knows how important it is to help ease your pain. The treatments could include ice, heat or electrical stimulation.

…Manual therapy. You may need hands-on therapy to help improve mobility.

…Therapeutic exercises. In order to strengthen and create flexibility, your therapist will prescribe certain exercises.

…Functional exercises. These exercises help you return to your normal functions and are similar to therapeutic exercises.

…At-home instruction. Your physical therapist will provide ways to continue to strengthen your knee while protecting it.

If you require surgery, your physical therapist, in consultation with your surgeon, will be able to tell you how much activity you can do depending on the type of knee surgery. You may participate in physical therapy before and after surgery.

Can This Injury or Condition Be Prevented?

You should keep a regular workout schedule and eat healthy foods.

Flexibility and strength training also help reduce your risk of a knee injury.  Athletes should perform appropriate warm-up exercises and stretches on a daily basis and before beginning physical activity.

It’s important that if any exercise or activity provokes knee pain, seek professional help before the symptoms worsen.

True Sports Physical Therapy—Where Maryland Athletes Rehab

At True Sports, we’re sports focused because you’re sports focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport.

With six convenient, state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment, and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at (401) 946-1672.