One of the most common issues that clients present to me with at Exercise For life is mechanical or non-specific knee pain. This is usually described as wear and tear, degeneration, bone on bone, catching of the knee or just old age. Well, all of the above descriptions would be correct as people present with different types of knee pain and describe various symptoms.
As people get older (40 years and above) they tend to present with issues involving the knee. Like any mechanical devices the knee (the lateral and medial tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints) start to present with changes after time. This is simply a product of carrying a large mass of weight against gravity for many years. It makes sense that there will be some changes.
Like age, degeneration of the knee joints takes many years and as a result the prevalence of mechanical changes with the knee are more common as we get older. As time passes people start to experience knee pain. The pain associated with knee degeneration contributes to many small changes as the person’s body starts to adopt movement changes and guarding behaviours. Due to the pain, the body starts to unload the knee, causing alteration in the way people walk and often the causes the person to place more load on the opposite leg. All of these compensatory and unloading behaviours causes secondary musculoskeletal issues that often become more of an issue than the original cause of the knee pain.
So what is the solution to reducing mechanical knee pain and preventing further deterioration of the joints? Historically people suffering from knee pain would go through the conservative treatment cycle, using certain pain relief medications and undergo different types of diagnostic imaging. Often knee arthroscopy surgery has been used to clear out or tidy the joint space. Recently the RACGP suggested that there is a lack of strong evidence that the above treatment modalities assist in the treatment of persistent knee pain. The National Health and Medical Research Council suggest that exercise is strongly indicating in preventing and managing degenerative knee pain. Furthermore, Dr Nespolon said, “every patient needed to be assessed as individuals but exercise was the new treatment “front-runner” ahead of invasive surgeries and medications”.
It is accepted that wear and tear associated with knee degeneration is not going to go away, however the mechanical changes adopted by the person’s body and the weakness caused by lack of use can be reversed. A specifically structured exercise program that focuses on gait retraining, quadriceps, calf and gluteal muscle strengthening and balance can have a dramatic affect in reducing knee pain and restoring knee function. Using this exercise approach I have seen hundreds of my clients with persistent knee pain improve their knee range of movement and function and most importantly reduce their pain. It is important to point out that inn advanced stages of severe osteoarthritis joint replacement surgery is often the only solution, however, it is still imperative that these individuals still engage in a specific exercise program that restores normal joint range of movement, restrains quadriceps and hamstrings strength, assists the individual to retrain gait and feel confident to move without pain.
If you suffer from persistent knee pain and you would like us to assess you and provide you with a management plan, please complete the attached contact form.