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Estelle's A-Z of knee pain

The A-Z of Knee Pain – updated!

I’ve written an article with the same title a while ago but I thought some of it could probably do with a little update!

The knee is (still!) the largest joint in the body.

  • 4 bones
  • more than 20 muscles each with a tendon
  • 4 major ligaments as well as many little ones
  • and at least 3 layers of cartilage.

So here goes with my A to Z of knee pain

Arthroscopy

An operation to “clean” inside the knee joint. Results of a 10 year study reports that arthroscopic surgery results are NO better than placebo surgery!! Sadly, despite this monumental finding, thousands have this operation every year despite it being a complete waste of time and undue risk.

Bakers Cyst

Swelling at the back of the knee which can make walking uncomfortable and compromises movement. Tricky to get rid of once it occurs, takes time and a concerted approach

Cortico-steroids

Usually given via injection these are to temporarily reduce inflammation (and therefore pain). They are NOT a long term solution, just a short term emergency pain relief. There is increasing research suggesting they can damage joints if used long term. However, if you need to get on a plane tomorrow for a critical trip they are a useful aid.

Diet

Visceral fat (the fat around the tummy) increases joint inflammation. More weight also puts more load on joints like the knee.  Losing weight can reduce the pressure and inflammation in the knees. As exercise can often be tricky with knee pain (!) diet can be a good place to start.

Extension

Getting the knee straight is of critical importance and is often the first movement to go.  This is what causes the limp.

A bent knee can then cause hip and back problems as the whole lower body is out of alignment.

Feet

Your knee is the biggest shock absorber for every step you take, so if there is shock or twist from the feet, the knee is going to take the strain. Correcting the feet can relieve the strain on the knee, reduce pain and prevent the situation getting worse.

Glucosamine

Taken with chondroitin this was all the fashion a few years ago. I think I may have even recommended it to help “lubricate” joints at one point. Recent research suggests it may not be that effective and movement is more effective (and often free!). So save your money but walk to the pharmacy.

Hips

Pain from the hips is often referred to the knee and vice versa. Make sure both are checked before starting treatment! Otherwise it’s a waste of everyone’s time and your money!

Ice

Numbs the pain and reduces swelling. Wrap an ice pack or frozen peas in a damp cloth, to prevent ice burns, and apply for 10 minutes every half hour. Cooling gels and creams (BioFreeze is my favourite!) are also handy – pop some one before you know you’re doing something strenuous and you will stay more comfortable for longer.

Joint Replacement

When all or part of the knee is replaced with a titanium joint. People are often refused if they are “too young” as the replacements often only have a lifespan of 5 – 10 years. Consider this as a last resort!

Knee Movement

Full range of movement matters. Matters to how you walk and therefore the effect on all the other muscles and movements in your body. Get strong and straight and pain reduces

Limping

If not corrected, limping can cause problems in the back and hips. These problems can’t be resolved until the knee problem is fixed.

Magnetic Resonance Therapy

A German technology for the treatment of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. This treatment strengthens and reinforces the cartilage, ligaments and tendons in the joint. It reduces inflammation and pain, allowing you to get your exercise regime going. With a success rate of over 90% for knees! Scroll back up to A for Arthroscopy to see we get so excited about that!

Nothing

Always an option – do nothing and maintain the status quo! Unfortunately waiting for it to “go away on its own” doesn’t always work, especially as you get older. It is always best to be proactive, the sooner you act the easier, quicker and more effective treatment is.

Orthotics

The dreaded “things in your shoe”. Fortunately technology has moved on and they are now slim and discreet enough to fit in the shoes you already own. Plus they make a huge difference to joint alignment which reduces inflammation in the knee as the joint “sits” optimally, reducing stress and wear and tear.

Physical Therapy

American research shows that exercise significantly improves movement and reduces pain in the knee.  The 1st muscle to lose strength in any knee problem is the quadriceps so focus on these. Exercise is not easy at first but get advice and persevere! Stretch and strengthen!

Q Angle Correction:

The angle formed by your thighbone and shinbone through the knee cap when viewed from the front. If you are knock-kneed or bandy-legged this angle is wrong, putting extra pressure on the knee and increasing wear and tear

Referred Pain

Getting an accurate diagnosis is critically important! Pain in the knee can be referred from the hip or the feet and without an accurate assessment, treatment is a waste of time as you are not treating the true cause of the problem. And a common problem among male runners with back pain? Poor knee function! You are all connected.

Supports

Are not all created equal! It is important to get the right one for your knee problem and the activity you want to do. New specialized techniques using tape are also effective. Elastic supports stifle the circulation and restrict movement.

Tissue Engineering

Or stem cell regeneration. This is a new surgery technique which implants cartilage from elsewhere aiming to stimulate cartilage re-growth but has mixed results to date.

Ultrasound

Used by physiotherapists, this therapy uses sound waves to reach deep tissues and increase blood flow, relax muscles and aid healing.

Viscosupplementation

Injections of hyaluronate into the joint to lubricate it but not cure it. The injection can be painful and only offers short term pain relief.

Water

Exercising in your swimming pool takes the weight off your knees. Over and over again research shows that exercise can reduce knee pain, and is a MUST!

X-rays

Look at bones. MRI look at other tissues. Neither is terribly helpful unless you are going for surgery. Remember that the reports are written for medical professionals who use words differently!

Youth

Osgood-Schlatter Syndrome can affect teenagers and youngsters as they grow. Often misnamed “Growing Pains” it’s simple to reduce the pain and onward symptoms.

Zig Zag

Left knee and right hip? Left ankle and right knee? Pain that started in the left knee and moved to the right? Shooting or stabbing pains? All signs that a more thorough assessment is needed as the root cause might not be where you’re feeling your pain today.

So there you go – do your exercises, get a proper understanding of the situation and then move!

If you need more help please feel free to call us, email us or WhatsApp us or book your appointment right now!

Don’t forget to check out our FREE Knee Pain Seminar on Wednesday 19 June at 11.30. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for future dates!

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