Knee pain can make walking and completing other everyday tasks more challenging than they need to be. However, physical therapy can go a long way toward relieving pain and restoring your range of motion.
Here is an overview of some of the most important parts of your knee, common causes of knee pain, and how physical therapy can help!
Anatomy of the Knee
Bones, cartilage, muscles, and other important parts make up your knee. However, problems with any of these parts can lead to pain and more serious injuries.
Your knee features three bones or parts of bones that work together to give your legs the motion they need to walk properly. The patella, also known as the kneecap, is the top portion of your knee. It serves as the connection point for your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). The femur and tibia move underneath the patella with the help of other parts of your knee to help you step.
Knees consist of two distinct types of cartilage—the articular cartilage and meniscal cartilage. Articular cartilage works to reduce the amount of friction between the three bones that make up your knee and make your steps smoother and more comfortable. Meanwhile, the meniscal cartilage serves a similar up-and-down purpose and absorbs shock as you step down. Meniscal cartilage is also known as the meniscus, and tearing this cartilage when stepping incorrectly or on an uneven surface is a common cause of knee injuries.
Other Important Parts of the Knee
Ligaments, tendons, muscles, joint capsules, and bursas make up the rest of your knees. These elements of your knees attach to or rest against your knee bones and expand and contract to help your knees move properly. Knee injuries or soreness can result from problems associated with any of these parts.
Common Knee Injuries
Your knees can be injured in a wide range of ways. It is also possible for knee pain to simply be the result of overuse and not necessarily connected to a specific injury.
Here are some of the most common reasons you may experience knee pain.
Knee osteoarthritis, which is also known as knee OA, is a type of overuse injury that results from a loss of articular cartilage over time. These cases are classified as primary or secondary, which are based on the specific cause of the condition. In fact, this is one of the most common types of knee injuries among the elderly.
Patellar tendonitis is a type of injury to the patellar tendon. This is the tissue that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. This is also known as jumper’s knee because it is often caused by jumping and similar activities.
Patellofemoral syndrome is a type of overuse injury that affects the cartilage under the kneecap. It is one of the most common types of knee injuries, especially among athletes. Younger women are often at the highest risk of developing this condition.
Other common knee injuries can include sprains, strains, fractures, a torn meniscus or ligament, or dislocation. Certain medical conditions can also contribute to knee pain, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
Finding a qualified physical therapist is an important step in getting your knee pain under control. They can help you in treating any underlying issues and reducing their overall impact on your life. During your first appointment, your therapist will evaluate your current range of motion and overall ability to move how you desire to. With this information, your therapist can create a custom treatment plan that includes specific exercises that target the muscles that need support to reduce your knee pain and restore the functionality of your knee.
At Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab, we are here to help you understand your knee or other joint pain and what you can do to reduce it. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy or to schedule an appointment!