Treatment of Knee Pain
Treating knee pain consists of two main components:
- Improved Flexibility.
- Increased strength of the muscles.
Flexibility is the ability of muscles to lengthen sufficiently. It involves stretching the large muscle groups called the Hamstring and Quadriceps which control the knee joint. Stretches of lower limb muscles is a must.
Strength is the ability of muscles and joints to exert force.
Improving strength consists of resistance exercises using external weights such as weight cuffs or Resistance bands or the use of free weights such as dumbbells and barbells or strength training machines in the gym.
Improving the flexibility and strength of the knee joint should be carefully done after the foot, ankle and knee joint postural assessment are done.
It is recommended that the spine alignment and hip muscle strength testing are done before advising knee exercises to any person.
For post-operative or ligament repair knee patients. Isometric knee exercises and guided weight-bearing on the knee are done as rehab protocol.
For the general population, knee exercises can be approached as per following:-
Pointers for exercises:
- Quadriceps muscle (Knee extensors) strengthening, with a focus on Vastus Medialis Oblique muscle, which is a predominantly weaker muscle and needs to be strengthened.
- Hamstring muscle (Knee Flexor) strengthening.
- Under the supervision of a qualified fitness trainer compound exercises like the squats and lunges in the full range of motion can be done, if the person has compromised range then partial or supported squats can be a good starting point.
- Exercises such as unilateral (single leg) leg press should be included to strengthen the quadricep muscles equally on both sides.
- Leg curls in the preferably on a seated leg curl machine to improve the strength of the Hamstrings.
- Hip Exercises such as glute bridges should also be added because hip muscle weakness can contribute to knee pain.
- Loading the knees with graded weights adequately to strengthen the knee ligaments and improve the tendon tensile strength.
Physical Therapy treatment of Knee Pain:
- Ultrasound therapy in case of acute pain.
- Mobilisation techniques for the patella (knee cap) and treating any patella mal-tracking syndrome.
- Sports Kinesio taping.
- Passive stretches of the Hamstring and Quadriceps muscle if the patient is unable to perform it.
- Application of heat or ice.
- Soft tissue mobilisation and releasing any muscular trigger points hindering optimal knee movement.
Knee pain caused due to faulty ankle alignment is treated with the help of customised arch foot insoles or arched home slippers, to improve ankle biomechanics and reduce knee pain.