Knee pain is one of the most common, yet debilitating, types of chronic pain that people experience. The knees are responsible for carrying the weight of the body, as well as most movement and exercises. Chronic knee pain is difficult not only because of the pain itself, but also because of the limited mobility it imposes on your life.
Fortunately, most cases of chronic knee pain can be treated with physical therapy. Before we dive into the types of physical therapy available to help treat knee pain, let’s talk through some of the common causes and symptoms associated with chronic knee pain. This will give you a better idea about what may have caused your condition, which you can relay to your physical therapist when discussing a personalized treatment option to get you back on your feet.
Causes of knee pain
Knee pain is a common ailment that affects people of all ages, though most people who experience chronic knee pain are over the age of 45. The reason for this is that most chronic knee pain is caused by osteoarthritis, which is a type of arthritis caused by general wear and tear of the body.
The knees carry most of the body’s weight. When coupled with movement, pivoting and bending constantly over the years, the cartilage in the joints can begin to wear down and cause inflammation, resulting in ongoing dull aches and/or sharp pains. Other common causes of knee pain include:
- ACL injury.
- Torn meniscus.
- IT band injury.
- Dislocated kneecap.
- Hip or ankle pain.
For some people, chronic hip or ankle pain can also cause knee pain. You may find that you are compensating for your hip or ankle pain by changing the way you walk, putting unusual pressure on your knee joint. Over time, this can lead to inflammation and pain in your knee and its surrounding ligaments.
Symptoms of knee pain
Symptoms of knee pain vary from person to person. In some cases of a small “tweak” of the knee, symptoms will heal after a few weeks with ice and rest (think R.I.C.E. treatment). However, chronic knee pain is classified as ongoing knee pain that lasts longer than six weeks, despite at-home treatments.
Symptoms of chronic knee pain can include:
- Swelling and inflammation.
- Limited flexibility in the joint.
- Popping or grinding sound during movement.
Emergency symptoms of knee pain include:
- Obvious deformity of your leg.
- Inability to fully move your joint.
- Inability to stand or put any weight on your knee.
- Fever, in addition to knee swelling, redness and/or pain.
- Knee pain (severe) following an injury.
If any of the emergency knee pain symptoms sound like what you are experiencing, contact a doctor right away.
Treatment options for knee pain
Most cases of chronic knee pain can be treated with physical therapy. Depending on the specific cause of the pain, your physical therapist may use a combination of the following physical therapy modalities.
- Manual therapy.
- Guided stretching.
- Kinesiology taping.
- Strength restoration exercises.
Physical therapy has been proved to dramatically reduce the need for future knee surgery. To learn more about the physical therapy treatment options available to you, find your nearest location and schedule an appointment or a free screening.