From Pain to Recovery: How Physiotherapy Alleviates Knee Pain

On June 11, 2024

Knee pain is a common complaint that can significantly impact your mobility and quality of life and make even the simplest tasks challenging. Physiotherapy offers an effective approach to managing knee pain. This blog explores the common causes of knee pain, how physiotherapy can help, and the role of exercise in managing knee pain.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Knee pain can result from a variety of factors, ranging from acute injuries to chronic conditions. Understanding the common causes of knee pain can help in identifying the appropriate treatment and prevention strategies.

  • Injuries: Acute injuries such as ligament tears (ACL, MCL), meniscus tears, fractures, and dislocations can cause severe knee pain. These injuries often occur during sports or accidents.
  • Overuse: Repetitive activities that put stress on the knee joint, such as running, jumping, or cycling, can lead to overuse injuries. Conditions like patellar tendinitis, runner’s knee, and iliotibial band syndrome are common overuse injuries.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis can cause chronic knee pain due to inflammation and degeneration of the knee joint. Arthritis-related knee pain is often accompanied by stiffness and reduced mobility.
  • Biomechanical Issues: Poor alignment, muscle imbalances, and improper movement patterns can contribute to knee pain. Conditions such as flat feet, improper footwear, and gait abnormalities can affect the knee joint’s function.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts additional stress on the knee joints, increasing the risk of developing knee pain and exacerbating existing conditions.
  • Degenerative Conditions: Conditions like osteoarthritis, which involve the gradual wear and tear of the knee joint, can lead to chronic knee pain and reduced function over time.

The Role of Physiotherapy in Treating Knee Pain

Physiotherapy can be highly effective in managing and alleviating knee pain. Physiotherapy aims to reduce pain, improve function, and enhance the overall quality of life.

  • Pain Reduction: Physiotherapists use various techniques such as manual therapy, and modalities (e.g., IMS Therapy, shockwave therapy) to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Strengthening and Stabilization: Targeted exercises are prescribed to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, improving stability and support. This can help reduce the load on the knee and prevent further injury.
  • Improved Mobility: Stretching and range-of-motion exercises help improve flexibility and mobility in the knee joint, making daily activities easier and more comfortable.
  • Correcting Biomechanics: Physiotherapists assess and correct biomechanical issues that may contribute to knee pain. This includes addressing gait abnormalities, posture, and movement patterns.
  • Education and Prevention: Physiotherapists educate clients on proper techniques and preventive measures to avoid future knee pain. This includes guidance on exercise, posture, and lifestyle modifications.

The Healing Timeline for Knee Pain With Physiotherapy

The duration of physiotherapy for knee pain can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the individual’s response to treatment, and individual goals. Typically, an effective physiotherapy program may range from a few weeks to several months.

  • Acute Injuries: For acute injuries like ligament sprains or minor meniscus tears, physiotherapy may last for a few months. The initial focus is on reducing pain and inflammation, followed by exercises to restore strength and mobility.
  • Chronic Conditions: Chronic conditions such as arthritis may require ongoing physiotherapy to manage symptoms and maintain function. You may benefit from periodic sessions over several months or longer.
  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation: For people recovering from knee surgery (e.g., ACL reconstruction, knee replacement), physiotherapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation process. The duration can range from 3 to 6 months or more, depending on the surgery and individual progress.
  • Individualized Plans: Each individual receives a personalized treatment plan based on their specific condition and goals. Regular assessments by the physiotherapist help monitor progress and adjust the plan as needed.

Is Walking Good for Knee Pain?

Walking can be highly beneficial for knee pain when done correctly and with the appropriate precautions. As a low-impact exercise, walking is gentle on the joints compared to high-impact activities like running or jumping. It helps maintain joint mobility and keeps the knee joint moving without excessive strain. 

Additionally, walking engages the muscles around the knee, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, strengthening these muscles and providing better support and stability for the knee joint. 

Improved blood circulation from walking delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to the knee, aiding in healing and reducing inflammation. Regular walking also helps manage body weight, reducing the load on the knee joints and alleviating pain caused by excess weight. It’s important to start with short, manageable walks, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as tolerated. If walking exacerbates knee pain, consulting a physiotherapist for guidance is advisable.

Exercises to Avoid With Knee Pain

While exercising is important for knee health, certain activities can exacerbate knee pain and should be avoided, especially during recovery:

  • High-Impact Activities: Running, jumping, and other high-impact exercises can put excessive stress on the knee joints, leading to increased pain and inflammation.
  • Deep Squats and Lunges: These exercises can strain the knee joint, particularly if not performed with proper form. Avoid deep squats and lunges, and opt for modified versions with a limited range of motion.
  • Heavy Weightlifting: Lifting heavy weights, especially in exercises that load the knee joint, such as leg presses and squats, can worsen knee pain. Focus on lighter weights and higher repetitions to reduce strain.
  • Knee-Intensive Sports: Activities like basketball, soccer, and tennis involve sudden stops, starts, and changes in direction that can aggravate knee pain. Consider low-impact alternatives such as swimming or cycling.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Knee Health

In addition to physiotherapy, certain lifestyle changes can significantly enhance knee pain relief and overall joint health. Here are some changes to consider:

  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the load on your knee joints, decreasing the risk of pain and injury. 
  • Proper Footwear: Wearing supportive and cushioned shoes can help absorb shock and reduce stress on the knee joints. Avoid high heels and unsupportive footwear.
  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Make sure your workstation is set up ergonomically to prevent strain on your knees. Adjust your chair height, use a footrest, and ensure your feet are flat on the ground while sitting.
  • Stretching and Flexibility: Incorporate regular stretching into your routine to improve flexibility and prevent muscle tightness around the knee. Focus on stretching the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors.
  • Mindful Movement: Be mindful of your movements and avoid activities that place excessive strain on your knees. Practice good posture and body mechanics during daily activities.

By integrating these lifestyle changes with your physiotherapy program, you can enhance your recovery, prevent further injury, and achieve long-term knee health.

Using Custom Orthotics for Knee Pain

Custom orthotics can play a crucial role in managing and alleviating knee pain. These specialized devices are shoe inserts made from moulded materials that fit the unique shape of your feet. They function by providing structural support and cushioning, enhancing the way your feet move and interact with the ground.

Custom orthotics work by addressing the underlying mechanical dysfunctions that contribute to knee pain. When there is misalignment or improper functioning in the feet, it can lead to increased stress and strain on the knees, ankles, hips, and spine. By correcting these imbalances, orthotics help to redistribute weight and pressure more evenly, thereby reducing pain and preventing further injury.

These types of orthotics are tailored to the specific needs of each individual. They stimulate the muscles of the feet and help maintain proper alignment as you stand, walk, or run. This stabilization extends up through the ankles, knees, and hips, ultimately supporting the pelvis and spine. By ensuring proper alignment and reducing unnecessary stress on the knees, orthotics contribute to overall joint health and function.

For individuals recovering from an injury or surgery, custom orthotics can be particularly beneficial. They provide the necessary support and stabilization needed during the recovery process, helping to prevent additional strain and promote healing.

Say Goodbye to Pain and Welcome Mobility!

Physiotherapy offers a comprehensive and effective approach to managing knee pain, addressing the underlying causes, and promoting long-term recovery. By understanding the common causes of knee pain, the benefits of physiotherapy, and the role of exercise, you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

If you’re struggling with knee pain, the team at Expert Physio in Burnaby is here to help. Our physiotherapists are dedicated to providing personalized care and helping you achieve optimal health and function. Contact us today to start your journey toward a pain-free life.

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