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Why do I have knee pain?

Knee pain is one of the most common injuries we see as Physical Therapists. Knee pain affects athletes, weekend warriors, individuals with physically demanding jobs, and more. So what causes knee pain?

There are a variety of pathologies and injuries that can be diagnosed in the knee, including Baker’s cysts, meniscus tears (see our previous blog post on this topic!), osteoarthritis, patellofemoral pain, and more. In this post we are going to talk about knee pain in general.

The knee itself is a fairly simple hinge joint. There is a slight bit of rotation at the end range when the knee is fully extended (or straight), but otherwise it basically just flexes and extends. The patella glides along the front of the knee to help the quadriceps muscle have a mechanical advantage (the patella sits in the tendon of the quadriceps muscle). At times this patella will glide in a less than optimal position along the groove, causing patellofemoral pain in the front of the knee. The reason the patella is not gliding well is most likely due to muscular imbalances. But the quadriceps muscle may not be the only muscle involved.

No matter what type of knee diagnosis you are experiencing, it is very important to look both above and below the knee joint for dysfunction. There may be weakness or range of motion limitations in the hip and/or foot and ankle that is causing pain in the knee. Low back and SI joint dysfunction can also sometimes end up causing pain in the knee. Depending on your specific diagnosis there will likely be some differences in treatment approach, but for any knee diagnosis you seek treatment for, be sure your movement professional is looking at you as a “whole person”, not just a knee!

Do you have knee pain? Contact us for an individualized assessment and treatment plan to address your pain and get you back to the activities you love.

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