Knee Pain and Injuries:
Almost 20% of people experience knee pain in their life-time and the proportion of people who experience knee pain increases with age. Recent studies have found that 1 in 4 athletes suffer from pain in the front of the knee and 70% of these between the ages of 16-24!
Knee pain can have a huge impact on day-to-day function. Our knees take alot of load, even with day-to-day tasks and as a result people often notice their pain with these daily activities.
- 1.5x your bodyweight goes through your knees when walking.
- 3-4 x your bodyweight goes through your knees when going up or down stairs.
- 4-5x your bodyweight goes through your knees when squatting to pick something up off the floor!
Causes of Knee Pain:
Causes of knee pain or knee injury can be split into two main categories: traumatic or non-traumatic.
Traumatic injuries occur in the way it sounds, by one specific incident of trauma. This can be by twisting or bending the knee, or by a direct blow, such as from sports, falls or accidentsThe direction and type of force that the knee sustained will impact the structure that is injured, including muscle, cartilage, ligaments or bone! Therefore, these injuries require a physical examination to diagnose location and severity of injury.
Non-traumatic injuries are the niggles or pains that have been annoying you for a period of time and haven’t gone away. This could be due to a number of factors:
- poor biomechanics
- muscle strength imbalances
- tight structures or
With these type of injuries there often isn’t one specific incident (or trauma) that started your knee pain. As a result, your physio will need to explore factors that have contributed to this pain. This includes looking at joints above and below the knee, to see if the knee is being overloaded because other areas e.g. hip or foot/ankle, aren’t doing their job correctly!
Do you have a specific knee injury that you’d like to know more about? Comment below and we can write up some posts about specific injuries/queries you might have!
The Knee Joint
The knee is a hinge joint with a simple purpose: to bend (flex) or straighten (extend). Whilst this explanation makes the knee joint sound simple, there are a lot of structures, including bones, ligaments and muscles that make up this joint! These structures that make up the knee (in combination with other joints in the body) allow us to perform activities, like walking, running and kicking.
However, an issue with one of these knee structures or with joints above or below the knee could result in us having difficulties in performing these day-to-day, as well as higher level tasks! Four different bones come together at our knee and make up of two different joints. These bones are the femur (big thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), fibula (small bone on outside of shin) and the patella (kneecap). The femur and tibia form our tibiofemoral joint, that is the main weight-bearing joint of the knee. The femur and patella form our patellofemoral joint (at the front of our knee) that helps improve knee movements.
Within our tibiofemoral joint, we have four main ligaments that help provide stability and two menisci (cartilage discs) that provide shock-absorption. The anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments are located inside of the knee, with the medial collateral (MCL) and lateral collateral (LCL) ligaments on either side of the knee. These ligaments have an important role in preventing forward, sideward and twisting movements of our knee. The menisci are situated within the joint and allow for smooth movement of the joint and prevent the bones from rubbing on each other.
These ligaments and meniscus are often injured in sports such as soccer, netball and rugby league, where there is pivoting, jumping and landing, or contact from other players that push these structures past their limits.
Stay tuned for more about knee injuries or “what can go wrong” in my next post.
Heath has a strong interest in lower limb injuries and he loves to help you get out of pain and return to the activities you love! He has recently been appointed as the physiotherapist to the Cronulla Sharks Women’s Rugby League teams where he is managing acute (new) and chronic (longstanding) knee injuries!