Common knee injuries can be split into two broad categories: acute traumatic injuries caused by a sudden impact or event, and non-traumatic/overuse injuries which are caused by repetitive stress over time.
Non-traumatic knee injuries are often caused by muscle imbalance, bouts of unaccustomed activities, or sudden increases in load. Here are a few common non-traumatic injuries of the knee:
Patellofemoral pain: This is a broad term used to describe pain at the front of the knee, around the kneecap (patella). Pain and stiffness in the knee can cause difficulty with running, stairs, bending and prolonged sitting. The pain is caused by muscle imbalance, or increased/altered load on the joint, leading to irritation and pain.
Patellar tendinopathy (jumpers’ knee): This is an overuse injury that causes pain at the front of the knee, just below the kneecap (patella). The patella tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects the quadriceps muscles to the shin bone (tibia). As tendons act as ‘springs’ during explosive movements, patella tendonopathies are usually aggravated by movements such as jumping, running and squatting.
Iliotibial band syndrome (runners’ knee): This condition can cause sharp pain in the outer side of the knee during activities such as running (especially downhill), riding and stairs. The pain is thought to occur due to the thick band of fascia (iliotibial band) which runs from your hip to your knee irritating the sensitive tissue underneath.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is the one of the most common causes of reduced activity and disability in older people. Approximately 30% of people aged 50-70 have osteoarthritis related problems. Knee osteoarthritis affects the articular cartilage that covers the end of your bones, however the whole joint must be considered in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness and difficulty with activities such as stairs, standing from a chair, and putting on socks. It is really important to know that many symptoms of arthritis are modifiable, and just because you have this diagnosis doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of pain and disability. If you suspect you may be experiencing osteoarthritis, our GLA:D program may be useful for you.
Most knee pain can be successfully managed through load management, and addressing underlying factors such as training error, footwear or muscle weakness.
If you are experiencing knee pain, book an assessment with one of our friendly physiotherapists today!