The knee is a joint comprising of several parts. The kneecap joins the upper leg bone (Femur) to make the Patellafemoral joint. The joint between the upper and lower leg is called the Tibiofemoral joint. There are several structures within the knee that can become painful. The knee cartilage can be affected by osteoarthritis, tears (with or without a history of injury) and the knee can sustain ligament injuries causing acute swelling and pain. The knee cap is also often a cause of pain and can be influenced by the forces down and up the limb when under load that is not normal for the patient. Adolescents often have this pain and this can be alarming. Normally, all of these problem will improve with Physiotherapy management techniques and will not require surgery.
What can I do to help?
Simple painkillers (paracetamol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, (ibuprofen) are available over the counter and can be very effective for musculoskeletal pain. If you are currently taking any form of medication it is advisable to consult your GP or pharmacist before taking pain relief.
Using an ice pack may be helpful for reducing pain and swelling. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works well as an ice pack. Leave the peas in place for up to 20 minutes at a time. This can be repeated regularly as comfort allows and your skin isn’t irritated by this approach.
Reducing the strain on your knee
It is usually best to carry out your normal activities, but try not to overdo it. You need to pace yourself to start with and try to do a bit more each day. Bracing may support it during this phase.
Rest or Exercise
Aim for a balance between rest and exercise to prevent your knee from stiffening up. Try to avoid the movements that are most painful, especially those that are repetitive. However, it’s important to remain generally active even if you have to limit how much you do.
Physiotherapy treatment may consist of mobilisations or soft tissue techniques/stretching. Occasionally taping/bracing if required. The strength of the muscles of around your knee/ankle and hip often influences knee pain. You will always have a comprehensive exercise plan.