The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It helps us to stand, move and balance.

Knee Anatomy and Function

The knee is a hinge joint  that is responsible for weight bearing and movement. It consists of bones, ligaments, menisci and tendons. The knee has a number of functions:

  • to support the body in an upright position
  • to help to lower and raise the body
  • to provide stability
  • to act as a shock absorber
  • to allow twisting of the leg
  • to enable upright walking
  • to help propel the body forward

The bones around the knee joint are the patella (kneecap), the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone) and the fibula (which runs besides the tibia). The knee consists of two joints –  the patellofemoral joint (between the patella and femur) and the tibiofemoral joint (between the femur and tibia). Articular cartilage and menisci act as shock absorbers and allow the bones to move smoothly over one another.

Diagram to show anatomy of the knee
Diagram to show ligaments and tendons in the knee

Ligaments act like strong ropes to connect the knee bones together, preventing excess movement and maintaining stability. The four ligaments of the knee are the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. Otherwise known as ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL!

Lastly, tendons connect the knee bones to the surrounding quadriceps and hamstring muscles, allowing movement and providing stability. The patellar tendon is the largest – it runs over the kneecap and up the thigh, where it attaches to the quadriceps muscles.

Knee Problems

Given that the knee is a complicated structure with multiple functions and stresses, it is not surprising that this area is prone to injury and problems. Common causes of knee pain include:

Knee Osteoarthritis

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Ligament Injuries

Meniscus Tears

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition, that typically comes on gradually.

It tends to be worse with prolonged activity or with inactivity, but better with rest.

The pain and condition may worsen over time but symptoms often improve with ice or anti-inflammatories.

Swelling or stiffness may be present.

Chiropractor treating knee pain

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is characterised by pain in the front of the knee.

The pain usually begins gradually and is related to activity, particularly actions that involve repeated bending of the knee such as jumping.

There may be a popping or crackling sound in the knee.

Ligament Injuries

There are two common injuries to ligaments of the knee – sprains and ruptures.

Ligament injuries may be associated with reduced movement ability, swelling, pain or tenderness, and bruising.

There may be a popping sound or feeling at the time of injury.

The knee may also feel unstable or give way.

Meniscus Tears

Meniscus tears do not always give immediate pain. Instead, people often report swelling or stiffness 2-3 days following the injury.

There may be pain, catching or locking of the knee and reduced movement.

There may also be the sensation of the knee giving way.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB syndrome) is a common cause of knee pain, particularly in runners.

It is characterised by pain on the outside of the knee that may worsen when running or going down the stairs.

Swelling may be present on the outer part of the knee.

There may also be exercise related tenderness.

How Can Chiropractic Treat Knee Pain?

Firstly, your chiropractor will use a range of tests to determine what is causing your knee problem and then decide on an appropriate treatment plan. This may include manipulation and mobilisation of the affected joints and muscles to ease restricted movement. Soft tissue massage can relieve muscle soreness and inflammation and increase mobility. Your chiropractor will also provide home exercises and advice for managing your condition and relieving pain.

What Can I Do To Help My Knee Pain?

What will help depends on what is causing the pain, and your chiropractor will advise you accordingly. In general, the key thing is to keep the knee mobile with gentle stretches and exercises, but avoid doing things that aggravate your condition. Click here to check out Claudia’s excellent knee exercise advice on our Instagram page. In addition, you may be advised to try hot or cold therapy by using either a hot water bottle or cold pack over the area. Make sure to wrap either of these in a towel to avoid damage to the skin.

Chiropractor using tape to treat knee injury

Suffering with knee pain?

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