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Common causes of knee pain and what you can do about it!

December 29th, 2022 by
Category: Dr. Erin Conway Knee pain

man holding knee in pain

Knee pain in Australia is very common and affects approximately 19% of the population – that’s nearly a quarter of the population! Knee pain can stop you from doing activities that you love if they are not taken care of. Your knees help you to walk, jump, run and lift heavy objects, therefore if they are in pain, it could alter the way you perform all of these tasks.

Knee pain symptoms

Symptoms of knee pain can include:

  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Bruising
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Inability to straighten or bend knee
  • Knee clicking with pain

Causes of knee pain

Common causes of knee pain can include:

  • Injuries. Knee pain injuries can include meniscus issues, ligament issues, bruising, sprains and strains & fractures. Some of these injuries can be caused by incorrectly performing sporting actions such as running, jumping, snowboarding and netball. You can also sustain knee injuries from accidents such as falls and car accidents.
  • Disease. Arthritis, tumours, bursitis and cysts may cause knee pain.
  • Misalignment of hips, pelvis and/or lumbar spine vertebrae. Misalignment of these areas can cause the biomechanics of your knee joint to alter, meaning your muscles and joints are not working as effectively as they should, potentially leading to knee pain and knee misalignment. In turn, if chronic, may lead to other issues such as knee arthritis.

What can be done about existing knee pain?

There are a few things you can do yourself (depending on the cause of your knee pain) to help your knee pain at home and with professional care.

  • At-home exercises. Building up key muscles to help balance out your knee biomechanics can assist with your knee pain, however, it is important to get professional help in deciphering which type of exercises and stretches will work for you. For example, for some people with pelvis misalignment causing knee pain, it can help to build up the strength in the gluteal muscles. For other people, it may help to stretch your iliotibial band out using a foam roller.
  • Lifestyle recommendations. Some things you can do at home to help decrease your knee pain – whether it is from a sporting injury, arthritis or bursitis – is to perform daily tasks (such as lifting heavy objects) with care, for example, squatting down instead of leaning forward with your legs straight to pick things up off the ground
  • Performing adequate exercise (at least 30 mins of moderate exercise daily)
  • Wearing sensible footwear
  • Lose any extra weight causing increased pressure on your knees
  • Stop smoking
  • If you are sitting for long periods of time for work, sit with your knees and hips at right angles to each other.

When to seek professional care for your knee pain

If your knee pain is constant, chronic (longer than 12 weeks), or affecting your daily life, it may be time to seek professional care. Many health sectors are equipped to help assess and treat your knee pain. 

For example:

  • Physiotherapists: Can help by giving you certain exercises to strengthen your knees
  • Osteopaths: Can help by re-aligning your knee joints using manipulations
  • Chiropractors: Can help by re-aligning your knee joints, assessing and re-aligning other areas that may be affecting your knees (eg: hips, pelvis and lumbar spine) and also provide you with exercises and stretches to perform at home to help fix the biomechanics of your knees which could be contributing to your knee pain.

Knee pain is a common issue affecting Australians but there are things you can do at home to help decrease your knee pain. However, if your knee pain is chronic and unrelenting with no change, you have sustained an injury (e.g. fallen onto a hard surface on your knees), are over 50 years of age or notice any peculiar symptoms (e.g. heat over the area, lumps, skin rashes or major swelling) it may be time to seek professional help. If it is pain you are trying to fix with some slight swelling, Chiropractors may help you fix the problem alongside Osteopaths and Physiotherapists. However, if you notice anything concerning such as major swelling or heat, or you are over 50 years of age, then going to a GP should be your first port of call.

 

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