Now that the weather may finally be improving all of us will want to take advantage of the next few months by getting outside. Whether you like to run long distances or if you just enjoy having a morning stroll, the benefits of getting outside and getting the body moving are many. One issue that can quickly put a stop to your plan of getting active is knee pain.
There are many different reasons for knee pain. There are also many different areas in the knee where pain can be felt. Because of this, it is often a bit confusing when trying to figure out what actually is the reason for the pain and what to do about it. If you have been experiencing knee pain that is making it difficult for you to get active and to get outside to enjoy our summer months then it is important that you find out what can be done.
Knee pain can create a dangerous downward spiral of inactivity, weight gain, leg weakness and overall de-conditioning. These complications of knee pain typically make the pain even worse as now you are carrying more weight and have less muscle strength to protect your knee. The end result is that many people end up completely changing their lifestyle and become much less active because of their pain. And we all know how the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes increases the less active we are. This is why it is so critical that you become proactive with finding ways to lessen the effect of your knee pain.
What many people don’t realize is that assuming your knee joint is healthy (this can be determined by an Xray) a very common cause for chronic knee pain is the pulling of a tight muscle. If your pain is in around the front of the knee then often it is tight thigh muscles that can be the direct cause of the pain. Pain on the inside of your knee which may seem like a ligament or cartilage issue (many people with this pain are waiting for specialist appointments) often is caused primarily by tight hamstring (back of thigh) muscles. Pain on the outside of the knee is very often the result of a tightened band of tissue that runs along the outside of your leg called the iliotibial band. If it is in fact the muscles that are creating the pain in your knee then often these are problems that can be solved.
So where should you start? Firstly, ask yourself did your knee pain start with one sudden movement? Or has it been a gradually worsening pain that came on for no apparent reason. Secondly, does your knee swell significantly? Thirdly, where is your pain? Is the pain around the ‘knee cap’ or is it on the inside of the knee? Or maybe the pain is on both sides of the knee joint. Then think about what things worsen your knee pain. The answers to these questions will help a medical practitioner better determine the reasons for your knee pain and what the best method of treatment is. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that there isn’t anything that can be done about your knee pain just because you have had it for a long time. Seek out advice and get back to enjoying the outdoors this summer!
Graham Gillies is a registered Physiotherapist at Sun City Physiotherapy Winfield and is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Therapy and a certified Gunn IMS and Acupuncture practitioner. He can be contacted at the Winfield location (250-766-2544) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org