Does your knee click, pop, or make other interesting noises? Does your knee hurt when you turn on it when walking/running? Does it swell up slightly after activity? Do you get sharp catches of pain, or occasions in which the knee locks? You could have a cartilage injury. The cartilage in medical terminology is called the MENISCUS.
The meniscus is a C-shaped structure inside the knee joint. There are 2 in each knee. They serve very important functions:
- They provide STABILITY – in conjunction with the ligaments
- They provide SHOCK ABSORPORTION – without the meniscus the bones of the knee joint are more likely to develop arthritis.
- They provide LUBRICATION and NUTRITION to the knee joint.
How does it get torn?
There are two types of tears – degenerative and traumatic, and a combination of the two:
- Degenerative – The meniscus deteriorates in all people with age and can tear with normal activity. If you’ve done a lot of squatting on your heels in your life (eg. plumber), you are more likely to experience degenerative tears.
- Traumatic – These occur when twisting forces are experienced by the knee, such as twisting the leg and body on a fixed foot. Eg. stepping and turning in a game of football/soccer. Twisting forces through the knee can cause tears and are often associated with ligament damage. The knee is essentially a hinge joint and does not like twisting movements.
What you can do to Help Once diagnosed with a meniscal injury you need to do the following:
- Relative rest – decrease the amount of time you spend on your feet, particularly any jarring activities such as jogging. Some people need to use crutches in the acute stage.
- Ice – apply with a wet towel for 20-30 minutes. The back of the knee and the inner side of the knee are often swollen.
- Seek an early diagnosis from your physio or GP.
How Does Physio Help?
Your Physiotherapist will:
- Determine what structures you have damaged.
- Instruct on strengthening exercises and balance exercises.
- Use ultrasound and electrotherapy to encourage healing and decrease inflammation in the meniscus.
- Recommend referral to a GP or specialist if needed.
- Advise re return to sport.
- Identify and treat muscle imbalances/tightness
PATELLO FEMERAL (Knee Cap) MALTRACKING
Patella Problems (Knee Pain):
The patella (or kneecap) is a common cause of knee pain. The patella rests on the front of the femur (the thigh bone) forming a joint called the patellofemoral joint. It is this joint that causes problems.
Why Does It Hurt?
The primary cause of patella pain is poor tracking (or movement) of the patella. Like a train running on railroad tracks, the patella needs to run smoothly over a track in the femur. When it runs off track it hurts. Maltracking may be caused by several factors which include:
- Tight hamstring calf or hip muscles
- Flat or pronated feet
- Muscle imbalance or weakness
Physiotherapy Can Help By:
- Taping to improve knee alignment
- Stretching tight muscles which pain can cause patella maltracking (commonly hamstrings and iliotibial band)
- Quadriceps/gluteal/hip strengthening exercises to improve patella control and alignment
- Foot orthotics may be prescribed if this a contributing factor.
- Physiotherapy is the most effective treatment for patello-femoral maltracking. Surgery is very rarely recommended.