Capping Knee Pain with Physical Therapy

You may think you’re too young for knee problems, but the truth is that pain in the kneecap is common in young, active people. Knees are vulnerable to sports-related injuries, and simple anatomical differences like flat feet or weak muscles can start affecting your knees as early as adolescence.

Symptoms of what is commonly referred to as anterior knee pain include

  • a dull, aching pain behind, below or on the sides of the knee
  • a grating or grinding sensation when you bend the knee
  • pain that gets worse after running downhill, climbing down stairs or standing in one place for too long
  • tenderness or swelling around the kneecap

Anterior knee pain is usually caused by an unstable kneecap rubbing against your thigh-bone. Sometimes, the knee becomes dislocated during activity; other times, knee pain results from a slow process caused by the weakness of surrounding muscles or poorly aligned joints. Depending on the reason for and severity of your pain, surgery may be necessary—but most anterior knee pain patients can avoid surgery and find relief with a good physical therapy program.

Therapy strengthens the muscles that support the kneecap, making them more responsive―and “responsible.” Once the muscles “learn” to protect your knee better, your leg can work in a more functional way that helps you avoid injury and discomfort. This usually includes exercises that strengthen and stretch the hamstrings, quadriceps and muscles of the hip, along with core work. Sometimes, orthotics, knee braces or taping might be used.

If you are experiencing knee pain, we can help. We will design a program that reduces pain and swelling; improves control, coordination and balance; and gets your knee working like new. And if you do end up needing surgical intervention, we can follow a similar path to help get you back on your feet after your procedure.

Knee problems usually don’t go away on their own. But don’t despair: If you seek treatment now, you can look forward to a healthy, functioning knee in the near future.