Knock out knee pain!

knee-pain-t453805719Do your knees ache every time you go up or down stairs and when you walk or run on uneven surfaces?

If so, you may be suffering from patella femoral pain, a type of knee discomfort that’s common among athletes, active teens and older adults. It affects more women than men and accounts for 20 to 25 percent of all reported knee pain.

The pain is typically felt at the front of your knee and in and around the kneecap (also called the patella—the triangle-shaped bone at the front of the knee joint). Patella femoral pain is considered an overuse injury, so it’s common among runners and those who frequently carry heavy loads.

Age-related changes can cause cartilage underneath the patella to wear out. Other possible causes include weakness, tightness or stiffness in the muscles around the knee and an abnormality in the way the lower leg lines up with the hip, knee and foot. These conditions can interfere with the ability of the patella to glide smoothly on the femur (the bone that connects the knee to the thigh) when you move. The resulting friction causes knee pain. You may notice it after sitting for long periods with your knee bent; and you may occasionally hear or feel a cracking noise when you bend or straighten your knee.

If you’re experiencing knee pain, report it to your physical therapist (PT) right away. Patella femoral pain is easier to treat if it’s caught early. You may need to modify your fitness level until you recover; your PT will show you how to do activities and exercises that won’t increase your pain.

He or she may also prescribe a customized exercise and pain-relieving program. It may include the following:

• Strengthening exercises that target the hip, knee and ankle

• Stretching exercises for the muscles of the hip, knee and ankle

• Taping the patella to reduce pain and retrain muscles to work efficiently

• Exercises that will help reduce the pain of everyday activities

• A lightweight brace

• Pain-reducing treatments like electrical stimulation

• Application of ice or heat at home for relief

• Acupuncture, which is very effective for many types of pain

If the stress on your knee appears to be linked to excessive rotation or impact while you walk or run, your PT may recommend that you be fitted with a special shoe insert called an orthosis.

For more information on knee pain and how to treat it, contact us here.

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