The Knee: Common Problems & What To Do About Them  

Many of the patients at our Ottawa physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics come for help with knee issues.

The Knee: A complex structure

The knee joint bears the body’s weight, and plays a crucial role in standing, walking, and running.

There are three major bones:

  • The femur: the upper leg;
  • The tibia: the shin bone at the front of the lower leg;
  • The patella: the kneecap.

There is a layer of cartilage at the ends of the bones that cushions its movement against the other bones. The cartilage pads that lie between the tibia and femur are called the meniscus.

  • Lateral meniscus—at the outside of the knee;
  • Media meniscus—at the inside of the knee.

Within the joint capsule, bursae, or small fluid-filled sacs, cushion the joint and allow for ease of movement.

Tendons and ligaments hold the bones in place, and attach to the capsule. They all serve to allow for movement, while helping to prevent injury by preventing the bones from moving too far in the wrong direction.

  • quadriceps tendon—attached to the patella;
  • medial collateral ligament (MCL);
  • lateral collateral ligament (LCL);
  • anterior cruciate ligament (ACL);
  • posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

What causes the pain?

There are many possible causes for pain in the knee and area. Here are some of the most common.

  • Sprained ligaments from injuries or sudden movement;
  • Torn cartilage (ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL or meniscus), very common in some types of sports;
  • Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendons, typically from over use;
  • Injuries, including fractures of the patella due to a sudden blow;
  • Bursitis occurs when the bursae become inflamed from over use.

There are many different types of arthritis that act via different means. The most common to the knee are:

  • Osteoarthritis—a degenerative condition that affects many older people;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis—an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints.

Self Care Options

The RICE protocol should help for milder injuries and conditions, and even if you are waiting to get professional medical help.

  • R: rest the knee;
  • I: use ice to reduce swelling, especially during the first 24 hours;
  • C: compression bandages also help to reduce swelling;
  • E: elevate the knee.

Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also help reduce pain and swelling. If swelling is not an issue, then heat can be applied.

When to see a medical professional

You can treat occasional soreness or fatigue with over the counter medications and a little rest. When it goes beyond that stage, however, you should know the signs when to seek medical attention from your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist

  • The pain is well beyond mild and has reached a severe and debilitating stage;
  • The knee is unstable, and won't bear your weight;
  • There is a lot of swelling;
  • You have a fever in addition to redness and swelling;
  • You can't stretch out your leg fully.

When the pain is evidence of a serious issue, our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics are available to help. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Ottawa locations today for a consultation.




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