The knee joint is a complex network of ligaments and muscles which support it making it vulnerable to knee injury. The knee is a weight-bearing joint which can be strained by falls, twists and trauma particularly in sport. Tears in the anterior, medial and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL, MCL and PCL) are very common. Damage to cartilage and the supporting muscles surrounding the knee are also well known. Knee injury also includes the hamstrings at the back of the thigh which flex and bend the knee, and the quadriceps at the front of the thigh, which extend the knee.
Conditions that affect your knees:
- Inflammation, such as tendinitis (tendons) and bursitis (the bursae are fluid-filled sacs which cushion the knee and when injured create swelling) also create pain and discomfort.
- Iliotibial band syndrome, common amongst long-distance runners can create a burning sensation, caused by rubbing of this strong fibrous ‘band’ of tissue. The fibrous band runs down the side of the thigh from the hip to the outside of the knee.
- Osteoarthritis is another inflammatory condition and is one of the main causes of knee pain. The likelihood of this increases with age as the cartilage covering the thigh and shin bones may be damaged or worn away. This creates friction and may cause swelling or pain in the knee joint.
How to care for these knee conditions:
Staying active and losing weight if you are overweight can help relieve knee pain and reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis. To keep knees healthy and pain free, it is vital to keep the muscles strong and flexible. Low impact exercises such as swimming and cycling are a great option.
Leg strengthening exercises
Leg strengthening exercises are also beneficial. Arthritis UK recommends exercise as “one of the best things you can do to help your knees by helping maintain range of motion and strengthening the muscles that support them.” Exercise keeps muscles around affected joints strong, lubricates joints, decreases bone loss and helps control joint swelling and pain.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) suggests some straightforward exercises:
- Seated or lying straight leg raises: these strengthen the quadriceps, the muscles at the front of the thigh above the knee.
- Sit/stands: getting up and down out of chair using your thigh muscles to raise and lower you with control.
- Leg cross seated or standing: to mobilise the Ilio-tibial band on the outer thigh.
Range of motion techniques
Check out this clip from Range of Motion highlighting strengthening, releasing and mobilising techniques to aid with knee pain.
For further information about how cooling and compression can help, visit our website www.physiolab.com. Our specially designed therapy packs can aid in fast recovery from knee injury, ACL tears, cartilage and muscle repair.