As with all parts of the body you rarely pay any attention to them until they start hurting. Knee Injuries are especially true of this.
We all take good health for granted, and it’s not until we injure ourselves, or start feeling pain that you realise how much you rely on your knees to get you around. The simple act of going upstairs, sitting down, or getting back up again can become excpetionally painful, and very quickly can limit the physical activities you are able to do.
The difficulty is the knee joint is particularly susceptible to injury because it is subjected to the full weight of your body, as well as anything else you might be lifting. If you add running or jumping in to the mix as well, you could be asking for trouble.
One of the hardest things when you do experience such pain is determining whether or not you need to see a doctor, or get some form of treatment. Here’s our advice for things to look out for – and how to respond properly.
Sprains and strains
If you you been doing more activity recently than you are used to, for example the lift has broken at work so you’re having to climb up lots of flights of stairs, you’ve just taken up walking or a new sport or you’ve spent considerable time in the garden, then there’s a good chance you’ve just sprained yourself.
This means that whilst the tissues of the knee have been stretched, and are therefore causing some pain, they are not permanently damaged. The good news that you can usualy manage such injuries at home using protective strapppings, rest, ice compressions and elevation of the foot/knee.
To avoid further injury in future it is important to make sure you are warming up and cooling down properly before and after exercises, that you increase your activity levels gradually over time so as to avoid shocking the body and that you are using the right equipment when it comes to shoes etc.
If you feel a sharp pain at the front of the kneecap this could be patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as anterior knee pain.
It’s not always obvious what’s causing the problem but it can be linked to any previous injuries you might have experienced. It can also be as a result of general overuse, again if you are a long time sports player.
Again, this can be quite an easy condition to treat at home; however, it is important to note that excess sitting or use of stairs can make the pain significantly worse. Generally using a combination of rest and tailored exercises can help strengthen the muscles, which in turn will reduce the problem.
The best thing to do in this situation is to seek the advice of a physiotherapist, who will help you understand what might have caused the problem, as well as identifying the best way to treat it.
Torn ligament or tendon
A ligament is the band of tissue which connects the bones at the knee joint, whilst a tendon connects muscles to bones. If you are involved in sports, specifically things like rugby or football, or a regular runner then this is one of the most common injury types you are likely to hear of.
The pain from such an injury can be quite severe, and will be present even when the knee is being rested. Sometimes the knee can feel like it’s going to give way, and you are unable to weight bear – which can be an indication that you have damaged your anterior cruciate ligament.
The best thing to do in this instance is speak to your GP who will refer you to a specialist for advice. In some cases surgery may be recommended, but this will depend on many factors. You may then wish to find out how a physiotherapist can help you build back strength, and avoid further damage to the area.