Chronic Knee Pain
Cory Manton, a physical therapist at Banner Desert Medical Center's Outpatient Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation Center.
Question: How do I manage my chronic knee pain?
Answer: Knee pain comes from many sources. Osteoarthritis is one of the more common causes of knee pain that we see in patients at Banner Desert Rehabilitation Center.
Early signs of osteoarthritis of the knee may include pain with squatting, hiking, climbing stairs or running activities. Progression of the disease may result in knee pain that is felt during sustained positions, walking and rising from a chair.
Chronic knee pain can be managed by achieving the following three goals:
- Maintain typical range of motion at the hip, knee and ankle.
- Maintain strength at the hip, knee and ankle.
- Correct abnormal movement patterns.
Working with a physical therapist can help you understand and achieve these goals by offering you a plan of exercises that will improve your range of motion. Use of joint manipulation, muscle stretching and mobilization of soft tissues will help when you are both bending and straightening the knee. Increased motion of the knee also helps to maintain normal soft-tissue elasticity, joint nutrition and joint mechanics.
In addition, chronic knee pain can be alleviated with increased strength. Weakness of the quadriceps, the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius may contribute to abnormal motion and stress at the knee that leads to pain. There are a variety of exercises that target the above muscles. These exercises should not cause joint pain.
Physical therapists can provide education about how you walk, rise from a chair, squat or climb stairs. Optimizing movement patterns can decrease the stress on the knee joint during daily activities. For example, some people may shift their knees too far in front of the toes when getting up and down from a chair. This position of the knee may cause increased stress between the knee cap and the femur.