Is Your Knee Joint Pain Slowing You Down?

Is Your Knee Joint Pain Slowing You Down?

August 14, 2019

Are you experiencing the most pain when you are running, squatting, getting down on your hands and knees, or using the stairs?

Why you may be experiencing knee pain

The knee is a joint made up of three bones (tibia, femur, patella) with a closely related fourth bone (fibula). Those bones have a cushion between them called a meniscus and tissue connecting them called ligaments. The joint will sometimes become set in a way that causes increased rubbing along its surfaces. It can also be put in a position over and over again, leading to ligament stress.

Typically, your ligaments or menisci do not get torn unless there is a specific injury to the knee. However, over time, increased stress to the ligaments can cause irritation and laxity.

When you do have an injury to the meniscus or ligament, surgery is not always the answer. When it comes to injured tissue, it may or may not lead to increased pain. It can, however, lead to altered mechanics, which can lead to additional stress to the joints or muscles and potentially pain. This inconsistency is why some people have pain after an injury and some bounce back but then begin having issues weeks, months, or years after the injury.

Keep moving

One of the best ways to make sure your joints are not limiting you is to make sure that the move! Each part of your joint should have some give to it. Start with your knee cap, when your knee is out straight and relaxed, it should move up, down, in, and out. It should not pop outside your knee, but it should have some “play” or “give.” If your knee cap feels stiff in one direction, try wiggling it into that position to try and improve it. You may experience a grinding sensation which can happen with reduced motion over time. It is usually not a bad thing to feel as long as there is no pain associated with it. I will warn you; if this is the area that is stressed, it could recreate your pain, please do not create more pain by pushing on your knee cap into the pain. This type of issue is where a professional could use their judgment and experience to help improve that motion even if it is into the pain.

Next, the knee hinge should bend a lot and straighten all the way. If you do not have full motion, it could be putting additional stress to the joint leading to potential discomfort. Surprisingly to most, there should also be some rotation in the knee, and again, limited motion can lead to abnormal stress.

Last, the fibula should have a tiny bit of wiggle in it. If this does not wiggle, it can create discomfort at the outer knee. Try to gently mobilize or press on the motion limitation to try to promote improved motion, but again, do not overdo it if it is causing pain.

Don’t Let It Go

Once you get your joints moving better, you need to use it! The saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” can be true. Joints with motion and no stability or control in that motion can turn back into stiff joints because your body is PROTECTING itself from getting overstressed. Squats, step-ups, and balance exercises are all great for reinforcing motion once you gain it. If you cannot seem to keep the motion and you are still having discomfort, speak with a physical therapist.

We would love to help you run without worrying about having increased pain or worrying about being limited during your house tasks. If you are looking for help try a free call with a PT to find out how Movement First Physical Therapy can help you and what is holding you back. Sign up for a Free knee performance visit to assess your goals, mobility, and find out a plan to help you stay active without worrying about pain or slowing down.

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