Patients are not always aware of what is causing the pain in their knees. One may suffer from an injury or develop arthritis which can lead to chronic or acute knee pain; however, it is never a good idea to self-diagnosis or self-medicate, especially if the pain persists for more than a couple of days.
On the bright side, most types of knee pain can be relieved with physiotherapy after a professional healthcare provider has assessed the patient’s symptoms, and examined the knees and legs. This includes physiotherapy for post-surgery knee pain and different types of injuries that cause aches and restrict the mobility of the knees.
Before we explain how to relieve pain with physiotherapy, it’s important for patients to learn more about the different symptoms of knee pain, and subsequent causes.
Knee Pain Symptoms
Depending on which region of the knee the pain is located, a physical therapist or physician will perform a few mandatory tests such as range-of-motion testing, assessment of joint effusion, etc., before making a final diagnosis.
Here are a few common knee pain symptoms that patients need to be aware of:
- Internal Pain: Knee ligament injuries, wear and tear of the ligaments, and arthritis can cause internal pain.
- External Pain: There can be many causes behind eternal knee pain. Multiple structures of the knee can get injured during extreme physical activity such as playing sports, thus leading to external knee pain. The hamstring tendon located on the external part of the knee can also cause pain if strained or pulled. Yet another cause is ITB stress which occurs when the tissues that pass over the knee rub against the outer part of one’s knee.
- Front Knee Pain: This is often related to problems with the kneecap. Dislocation, swelling of the bursa (located in front of the kneecap), and swelling of a tendon between the shin and kneecap can all cause pain in front of the knee.
- Back of the Knee Pain: Hamstring strains cause pain in the back of the knee, however, this is quite uncommon. Inflammation of the knee joint can also lead to pain in this region which is called Baker’s cyst.
Knee Pain Treatment by a Physical Therapist
Physiotherapy refers to guided physical activity in the form of exercise, stimulation, compression, etc; the treatment is intended to cure or relieve pain caused by injury, deformity, or disease. In order to help patients make full recoveries or relieve them of pain in the knees, the physical therapist will first conduct a thorough examination of the knees and legs to determine the cause of the pain. Depending on the symptoms and the results of the evaluation, treatment will be advised.
Patients may be asked to follow a customised exercise routine to rehabilitate the knee, or simply strengthen and regain full motion of the knee joint. Some programs can be followed at home while others may require a trip to the clinic/centre where physical therapists conduct exercise programs under their guidance.
Physical therapists generally recommend the following types of exercises for knee pain:
- Straight leg raises
- Short arc quads
- Hamstring curls
- Seated leg extensions
- Half squats
- Various types of leg stretches
- Balancing exercises
DISCLAIMER: The exercises/stretches above must be approved by a qualified physician and not attempted by patients who have self-diagnosed their knee pain.
Your physiotherapist will recommend the number of reps and sets for each exercise in the program which the patient must follow diligently. It is important to push yourself to meet the exercise program requirements while not exceeding the reps and sets recommended by the physician. With that said, if you face severe pain while performing an exercise, stop immediately and avoid continuing the program until consulting with your physical therapist.
During the treatment to relieve knee pain, your recovery will be monitored closely to ensure that the program is benefiting you. Depending on the progress made after a stipulated period of time, your physiotherapist may put you on to a different exercise program, one that is designed according to your current diagnosis.
Along with exercise programs to relieve knee pain, there are some types of treatments that a physical therapist will perform at the centre using specialised equipment. Some of these methods can also be performed at the patient’s home by a physician who makes house calls.
Other types of treatment to get rid of knee pain include the following:
- Soft tissue massages
- Kinesiology taping
- Electric stimulation
- Hot and cold therapy
While these treatments may not be necessary, when used in combination with an exercise program, they have proven to be very effective in relieving knee pain.
Individuals of all ages should consult with a physical therapist or professional healthcare provider if they are experiencing chronic or acute knee pain. In case of mild pain in the knee, physiotherapists advise rest and keeping the knee elevated. Ice and heat compression is also advised, however, if the pain persists for more than 7 days, one should go see a physician. In order to relieve knee pain under the guidance of a physical therapist, the patient must perform specific types of exercises and/or receive specialised treatment from a trained physiotherapist. The recovery period will depend on the diagnosis and how the patient responds to the recommended physiotherapy.
Our professional practitioners at MSK Therapy can help you better understand the causes and symptoms of concern when it comes to knee pain while offering chiropractic adjustments to mobilise knee joints and relieve aches caused by misalignment. Feel free to reach out to us with questions regarding the information above.