What causes knee pain?
There is no single cause for painful knee joints, but there are generally 2 types of contributing factors:
- Traumatic injuries usually happen suddenly and with great force. Examples include falling hard on the knee joint, or being stuck on or near the knee.
- Chronic injuries develop over a longer period of time and are often the result of repeated stress to the knee. This stress can cause the knee joints to move out of normal alignment; in some cases, your kneecaps may either be closer to each other or farther apart than they should be.
Other possible reasons for chronic injuries may include: obesity, ligament weakness, not having enough protection from heel-strike shock, foot/ankle problems, improper exercise or lifting techniques, etc. Organic conditions would include infections and tumors. Your doctor will give you a thorough examination which may include a range of motion (ROM) and orthopedic testing – to search for possible alignment/tracking problems and to test for signs of muscle or ligament weakness to help determine the cause of your knee pain.
What are some of the causes of knee alignment problems?
The knee is actually made up of 2 joints involving 3 bones. As a hinge joint, the healthy knee bends in 1 plane of motion much more than it rotates, although some rotation is involved during the gait (walking) cycle. In a normal posture, the kneecaps point straight ahead over the feet. This is the knee posture, which gives the most support to the hips and spine.
Problems occur when a knee becomes misaligned. A cause for this misalignment can start in the foot or ankle. If 1 or both feet have a structural problem (e.g., flat feet, high arch, weak ankles), this condition can cause the leg to rotate improperly and apply tension to the knee. As knee muscles and ligaments weaken, the joint may begin to move out of its proper position. These imbalances have a potential ripple effect, which can affect the hips, low back, and neck. That’s why you’ll often encounter someone whose back started hurting after he or she began having knee problems.
How can my healthcare professional help me to get better?
Again, depending on the diagnosis of your condition, your healthcare professional has treatment programs to help restore your knees to normal function. Along with any determination of the need for rest or other therapies (ice, ultrasound, etc.), a 3-step program is often indicated:
- Manipulation (adjustment) of the joint for proper alignment
- Exercise to build muscle strength and joint stability
- Use of functional orthotics to help reduce excessive internal and external rotation, and to help absorb heel-strike shock
Developing knee muscles helps to stabilize the joint and to prevent further serious injury. Your doctor may prescribe therapeutic exercises to help you rebuild strength in the knee area. Often these exercises can be done either in your healthcare professional’s office or in your own home.
Balanced support, stability, and proper movement are the keys to a healthy knee structure. Ask your healthcare professional if functional orthotics or therapeutic exercises would help you.
Take the Test
- Do you stand or walk on hard surfaces for more than 4 hours daily?
- Do you participate regularly in any physical sport (basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, etc)?
- Are you age 40 or over?
- Have you had a prior injury to your knee, back or neck?
- Do your shoes wear unevenly?
- Do you have joint pain while standing, walking or running?
- Is one of your legs shorter than the other?
- Do you have knock-knees or bow legs?
- Do you have obvious foot problems (bunions, corns, flat feet, etc)?
- Do your feet “toe-out” when you’re walking?
If you checked yes on any of the above, you may want to visit a chiropractor!
Give us a call to schedule an appointment @ 410-717-6610