It looks like Spring is finally here to stay, and with the warmer weather comes more outdoor activity –
running, biking, track and field, lacrosse, and other seasonal favorites. Unfortunately, many of these
sports and activities bring with them sore knees. One form of pain that is associated with these Spring
activities is Patellofemoral pain (pain surrounding the knee cap).
Patellofemoral pain is aching caused by the knee cap gliding over the distal portion of the femur (thigh bone) and the lower leg in a “misaligned” fashion. It often feels like a nagging, dull ache on both sides of the knee, but sometimes feels sharp or can be felt primarily on just one side of the knee or the other. This pain can be initiated by jogging, squatting, crouching, going down stairs, and in many other repetitive activities and instances. Fortunately, however, this type of pain is often the result of overuse and can be minimized or mitigated against by following some simple steps:
Give your knees a break. If you’re experiencing lots of pain and are trying to push yourself in your chosen activities everyday, your knees are probably not getting enough rest. Take a few days off. Continuing to push yourself could make the situation worse and start your knees on a path toward future arthritis.
Apply ice to your knees after exercise to stem inflammation and begin the healing process. Ice (or near freezing temperature water) absorbs heat from your inflamed joints and numbs the nerve endings, providing some pain relief. Be sure to ice long enough, 15 to 20 minutes, unless your applying ice directly to bare skin, which can be okay, but not for more than three minutes at a time. . Do NOT ice too long or you’ll risk frost bite or further damage to your knees.
Stretching helps improve circulation and posture, reduces stress and muscle tension, all in addition to improving flexibility. With knee pain, you may have overly tight IT bands, quadriceps, or hamstrings, all of which may be contributing to knee misalignment and pain. A good stretching program can help with these problems.
Building strength in your core and muscle areas surrounding your hips and knees is a
terrific way to keep everything well aligned. When your gluteus medius, hamstrings, quadriceps and
other surrounding muscles are strong, no one group has to pull things out of alignment to compensate for a weak area. And, your knees will feel less pain over the long haul.
At Long Pond Physical Therapy we have many patients that experience Patellofemoral knee pain. They will often come in for one or two Wellness visits to get on the right track with an appropriate program and continue to follow it on their own. Other times, the situation may call for more advanced treatment with taping, modalities such as laser, electrical stimulation in addition to ice, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises.
Good luck and take care of your knees!
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