Imagine carrying a 50-60kgs load on yourself for 24x7, 365 days. That hurts right? But the fact is that our knees do really take all that body weight on themselves all the time, and hence it is the most prone to pain and pop. The most common causes for knee pain in young adults include injuries of the meniscus, ligament or the joint, while that in older adults include the age-related progressive degeneration of the joint termed as osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is considered as the major global burdens of disability to the mankind. The literature shows the evidence of 46% people experiencing knee pain at sometimes in their life. The causes for the same can be excessive body weight, sedentary lifestyle, reduced muscle strength, decreased bone quality.
The common signs and symptoms that we observe in people with knee concerns include pain, swelling, morning stiffness or stiffness after inactivity, crackling or popping sound from the knee. The investigations include the MRI or X-ray depending on the tissue involved with clinical correlation.
The treatment for knee pain includes various approaches depending on the severity and the area of involvement. In case of severe cases with extreme knee impairment and activity limitation the treatment approach is pharmacological including pain relieving, anti-inflammatory medicines or surgical approach like ligament reconstruction, meniscal repair, joint replacement. Whereas in mild to moderate cases the treatment approach includes physical therapy.
Physical therapy plays the most important role in managing the knee pain by various treatment options like manual therapy, thermal therapy, electro therapy, aquatic therapy, stretching and exercises, joint alignment correction.
Aquatic therapy has been the recent advancement in the treatment of knee pain as exercising in water offloads the weight on the knee joint. The weight in water is 1/10th the weight on land, as water is a gravity eliminated environment.
Aquatic therapy in performed indoors in a pools, which is equipped with advanced aquatic equipment like resistance jets, underwater treadmill with visual biofeedback, underwater elliptical and an underwater bike.
It’s important to respect and listen to your body. If it hurts, change or modify what you are doing. If you are fatigued, consider taking a rest break – many injuries occur when people continue working through fatigue Do get expert advice. If your knee pain is new, get a doctor to check it out. It’s best to know what you’re dealing with so that you can prevent further damage.
Tips to manage knee impairment
● Regular exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee, hip and ankle to reduce the load on the knee joint.
● Stretching leg muscles to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the joint especially in the morning before getting out of the bed.
● Working on lossing weight if you are on the heavier side so as to reduce weight that falls on knees.
● Improving the quality of bones by keeping the calcium and vitamin D3 levels in the required range.
● Preventing a sedentary lifestyle and taking regular posture breaks in between work hours.
● Including low impact knee joint exercises like brisk walking, aquatic exercises, cycling four-five days a week for 30-40 mins to improve the muscle endurance and reduce stiffness.
● Foot position and footwear play a vital role in managing knee pain since they help in shock absorption and even distribution of weight in the legs.
● Activities or positions that can be avoided include sitting cross leg, full squatting, running, or any high impact movements until the proper rehabilitation for managing the knee impairments is done.
● Environmental modifications like fitting a rail against stairs for additional support, Avoiding sitting on low soft chairs/sofas, can help reduce the overall load on the joint.
(The writer is Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, AquaCentric Therapy)