Knee pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints. The knee structure involves bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, muscles and bursas, so there are many elements that can be involved in knee dysfunction. The type of pain can range from a slight ache all the way up to debilitating pain where even weight bearing or walking is difficult. Knee pain can affect all age groups, from toddlers to the elderly and can be acute or chronic in nature.
Causes of Knee Pain
Knee pain is common from falls and collisions however most knee pain is due to altered muscle mechanics, often involving the kneecap.
Osteopaths will determine the cause of your knee pain and most importantly help you correct the mechanical imbalances of your knee and other associated regions so that you can move around with confidence and comfort. If need be, your osteopath will refer you for further medical assessment.
Knee Pain in Young People
Sporting injuries such as sprains and strains can be due to muscular imbalance, poor technique, or environmental factors such as terrain or equipment. In some cases a condition called OSGOOD-SCHLATTER SYNDROME may develop. Our Osteopaths can help the joint and muscle imbalances of the knee that are associated with this condition, thereby reducing pain and increasing functionality. Adolescents and children can also develop pain as a result of chronic stresses on their skeletal system which is commonly referred to as growing pains.
The tissues in the body have a memory system that can hold a strain pattern for many years. These strain patterns can slow efficient healing and if left untreated can predispose the athlete to chronic pain or further injuries. A knee injury can also affect the biomechanics of the lower back, hip, leg and ankle. Cranial osteopathic treatment aims to assist young athletes reach their full potential by ensuring the body is moving at its optimum. Treatment can address the muscular imbalances and improve lumbar-pelvic biomechanics, which could prevent the recurrence of injuries and decrease healing time.
Knee pain for the adult
Osteoarthritis commonly affects the knee and is caused by degeneration of cartilage. In the worst-case scenario, the thigh bone and the leg bone will rub against each other and this can result in a chronically painful knee. Patients with osteoarthritis symptoms usually report knee pain that gets worse with activity, prolonged sitting or within half an hour of waking.
Cranial osteopathy treatment can relieve symptoms by gently working on the knee muscles, ligaments and the knee joint to improve circulation to the area and decrease swelling. This can relieve tension within the knee. Osteopaths are holistic in their approach and will also work on the lower back and the other areas of the body to improve your body movement.
Osteopathic Examination for Knee Pain
By improving knee movement and function, the aim of the osteopath is to help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Your osteopath will start the consultation with a thorough case history including past injuries, accidents, past health concerns and previous illness’s or surgeries. Your osteopath will also want to find out the causes and symptoms of your knee pain.
Your osteopath will then do an examination to assess your knee pain, taking into account how the joints and muscles are working and the location of the tension and tenderness. This information helps your osteopath to diagnose which joints, ligaments and muscles are inflamed and the type of biomechanical imbalance that may be present.
Osteopaths take a whole body approach. They will address the joint, ligament and muscle imbalances of the knee, as well as looking for other compensations taking place from the ankle and feet up to the hip and lower back that may be contributing to your knee pain. For instance, it is common that when a person has knee pain that they start walking and standing in a different way to protect the knee, potentially causing joint and muscle imbalances in other areas of the body.
All of our osteopaths have many years of clinical experience in both treating and managing acute or chronic knee pain. We all use a very gentle technique, with patients often feeling quit relaxed during the treatment. We often put a pillow under the knee to make it more comfortable for the patient if needed. All the osteopaths have electric treatment tables, and they can easily adjust the table height so the patient can comfortably get onto and off the treatment table. Apart from treating the knee, the osteopath may also treat other associated areas that are causing compensatory problems for the knee like the ankle, foot, hip or lower back regions if needed.
Managing Knee Pain
In conjunction with osteopathic treatment, your osteopath may recommend certain things that you can do to help manage pain and assist recovery. This may include rest, heat or ice packs, gentle exercise, stretching, heating or cooling creams, strengthening appropriate muscles, compression support or a brace and supplements.
Additionally, as the knee is a large weight-bearing joint, keeping a normal body weight is important. Excess body weight increases the forces placed on the knee during everyday life and this can lead to knee pain. It also important to choose exercise wisely. Chronic knee pain would benefit from swimming or a reduced frequency of high impact sports such as basketball, tennis or jogging. Acute knee pain may require modification of an activity or stopping the activity for a short period of time until the acute knee pain settles.
Why Choose an Osteopath
Osteopaths look at knee in a holistic way and can be an alternative to other manual therapists like chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists. They take a whole body approach and do not just focus on the knee itself. Osteopaths look at how the knee is being influenced biomechanically from other body regions like the ankle, foot, hip and the lower back as an example. This whole body approach means the osteopath may be able to reduce pain and improve mobility more efficiently. Osteopaths can treat both acute and chronic knee pain and can also help post surgery.