Knee Pain

Knee pain refers to discomfort or soreness experienced in the knee joint area. It can be caused by various factors such as injuries, overuse, arthritis, or underlying medical conditions.

Knee Pain
Knee Pain
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Your Guide to Understanding Knee Pain

What is Knee Pain?

Knee pain is a common ailment that refers to discomfort or soreness experienced in the knee joint area. The knee joint is a complex structure that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia) and allows for bending, straightening, and rotation of the leg.

There can be various causes of knee pain, ranging from acute injuries to chronic conditions. Acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, and fractures, can result from sudden impact, twisting movements, or falls. These injuries often lead to immediate pain, swelling, and difficulty in bearing weight on the affected knee. On the other hand, chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, and IT band syndrome can cause persistent or recurring knee pain over time.

Common symptoms of knee pain include localized discomfort, swelling, stiffness, limited range of motion, and difficulty in performing activities that involve the knees, such as walking, running, or climbing stairs. The severity of knee pain can vary from mild discomfort to sharp, intense pain that hampers daily activities.Consulting a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or naturopath, is recommended for proper diagnosis and treatment of knee pain. The healthcare provider will conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include physical examination, imaging tests (like X-rays or MRI), and assessment of medical history. Based on the underlying cause, they may recommend specific treatment approaches, including exercises and physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, natural remedies, medication, or in some cases, surgical intervention.

It's important to address knee pain promptly to prevent further damage and improve quality of life. Following a multidisciplinary approach that combines conventional and complementary therapies can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, improve joint mobility, and enhance overall knee function. Additionally, adopting lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight, practicing proper posture, and avoiding activities that aggravate knee pain can contribute to long-term knee health.

How can Physiotherapy help treat Knee Pain?

Physiotherapy services play a vital role in alleviating knee pain through a tailored and holistic approach. Physiotherapists use various techniques to address knee pain, such as manual therapy, exercise prescription, and modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation. They assess the underlying causes of knee pain, including muscle imbalances, joint instability, or improper movement patterns, and design personalized treatment plans accordingly.

Physiotherapy aims to reduce pain, increase range of motion, strengthen surrounding muscles, improve joint stability, and enhance overall function. By combining targeted interventions and empowering patients with self-management strategies, physiotherapy helps individuals find long-term relief from knee pain and improve their quality of life.

What causes Knee Pain?

Knee pain can be caused by various factors, including injuries, overuse, and underlying medical conditions. Here are some common causes of knee pain:

  • Injuries: Acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, or fractures, can result from sudden impact, falls, or twisting movements. These injuries can damage the structures within the knee joint, including ligaments, tendons, or cartilage, leading to pain and inflammation.
  • Overuse: Repetitive activities or excessive strain on the knees can cause overuse injuries. This often occurs in athletes or individuals who engage in activities that involve repetitive knee movements, such as running or jumping. Overuse can lead to conditions like tendinitis (inflammation of tendons), bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs), or patellofemoral pain syndrome (pain behind or around the kneecap).
  • Arthritis: Knee pain can also be caused by arthritis, which is the inflammation of the joints. The two most common types of arthritis that affect the knees are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that occurs with age and wear-and-tear of the joints, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic joint inflammation.
  • Other conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gout, infection, or bone tumors, may also lead to knee pain. Additionally, issues with alignment, such as knock knees or flat feet, can put extra stress on the knees and contribute to pain.

What treatments might help Knee Pain?

The treatment for knee pain aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility. Here are some common approaches to improving knee pain:

  • Rest: Taking a break from activities that worsen the pain allows your knee to heal and reduces strain on the joint.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the affected knee can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Use an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth, and apply it for about 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression: Using a compression bandage or knee brace can provide support and help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevating your leg by propping it up on a pillow or cushion when sitting or lying down can help reduce swelling.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Always follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.
  • Exercise and stretching: Strengthening the muscles around the knee through targeted exercises can provide stability and support. Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.
  • Physical therapy: Seeing a physical therapist who specializes in treating knee pain can be beneficial. They can guide you through exercises, stretches, and techniques to improve knee function and reduce pain.
  • Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce stress on the knee joints, as excess weight can contribute to knee pain.
  • Assistive devices: Using assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, or canes can help offload weight from the knee and provide support during recovery.

Signs of Knee Pain:

Signs of knee pain can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Pain: The most obvious sign of knee pain is discomfort or pain in or around the knee joint. It can range from mild to severe and may be described as a dull ache, sharp stabbing pain, or a throbbing sensation. The pain may worsen with movement, weight-bearing activities, or at specific times of the day.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the knee joint is another common sign of knee pain. It can occur due to inflammation caused by injury, overuse, or underlying medical conditions. The swelling may make the knee feel puffy, tender, or warm to the touch.
  • Stiffness: If you experience stiffness in your knee joint, where it feels difficult to fully bend or straighten your leg, it could be a sign of knee pain. Stiffness may be more noticeable after prolonged periods of inactivity or upon waking up in the morning.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Knee pain can lead to a decreased range of motion in the affected knee. You may have difficulty fully extending or flexing your leg, making it challenging to perform certain movements or activities that require knee mobility.
  • Instability: Feeling unstable or as if your knee might give way or buckle is another sign of knee pain. This instability can be caused by ligament injuries, muscle imbalances, or weakness in the surrounding knee structures.
  • Clicking or Popping Sensations: Some people may experience clicking, popping, or grinding sensations within the knee joint when moving or bearing weight. These sounds or sensations can occur due to cartilage damage, meniscus tears, or other structural issues.

Symptoms of Knee Pain:

The symptoms of knee pain can vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some common symptoms associated with knee pain:

  • Pain: Pain is the primary symptom of knee pain. It can range from a mild ache to sharp, intense pain. The location of the pain can vary as well, including the front, back, or sides of the knee joint.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the knee joint is a common symptom of knee pain. The knee may appear puffy or swollen, and it may feel tender to the touch.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness in the knee joint is another symptom of knee pain. You may experience difficulty fully bending or straightening your leg, making it challenging to perform certain movements or activities.
  • Limited range of motion: Knee pain can lead to a decreased range of motion in the affected knee. You may have difficulty fully extending or flexing your leg, which can affect your ability to walk, run, or participate in physical activities.
  • Instability: Feeling that your knee is unstable or giving way is a symptom of knee pain. This sensation of instability can occur due to ligament injuries or weakness in the surrounding knee structures.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: Some people may experience clicking, popping, or grinding sensations within the knee joint. These sounds can occur with movement and may be accompanied by discomfort or pain.
  • Difficulty bearing weight: If you have knee pain, you may find it challenging to bear weight on the affected leg. Putting pressure on the knee can increase pain and discomfort.
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When is the right time to see a Physiotherapist for Knee Pain?

It is advisable to consider seeing a physiotherapist for knee pain under certain circumstances:

  • Persistent or worsening pain: If you are experiencing persistent knee pain that does not improve with rest or self-care measures, it may be a good time to seek professional help. Additionally, if the pain is worsening over time or interfering with your daily activities, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional.
  • Recent injury: If you have recently injured your knee, such as a sprain, strain, or fall, it is beneficial to seek evaluation from a physiotherapist. They can assess the extent of the injury, recommend appropriate treatment, and guide you through the recovery process.
  • Difficulty with mobility or function: If knee pain is affecting your ability to move, walk, or perform regular activities, it is a sign that professional intervention may be necessary. Physiotherapists can help identify any underlying issues contributing to the mobility limitations and provide targeted therapies to improve function.
  • Recurring knee pain: If you have experienced recurring episodes of knee pain, it may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Seeking the expertise of a healthcare professional can help identify the root cause of the pain and develop a comprehensive treatment plan to prevent future recurrences.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as arthritis, that contribute to knee pain, consulting with a Mississauga clinic for a physiotherapist can be beneficial. They can provide specialized care and advice tailored to managing knee pain in the context of your specific condition.

Meet our Lead Registered Physiotherapist

Brittany Pereira

Brittany Pereira

Registered Physiotherapist

Registered Physiotherapist with a degree from the University of Toronto

Brittany enjoys working with patients across age groups and backgrounds to help them move better, get stronger, understand their bodies and ultimately, feel more confident. She combines her knowledge and clinical experience to best serve her patients.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
Interior Lobby at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic in Mississauga