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Updated: August 4, 2012 20:23 IST

No more knee pain

JAYANTHI MURAHARI
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Overuse?... Photo: Heena Lohia
The Hindu Overuse?... Photo: Heena Lohia

Overuse of the knee joint can lead to excruciating pain. Here’s how you can deal with it.

Most people these days complain of knee pain. For some it’s a chronic problem and for others it’s temporary. Though knee pain is a common issue, the reasons for the pain vary.

The knee joint is one of the most functional joints and also the most complex. It plays a major role in locomotion. The most common question is: how can a joint so much in use get so weak? That is exactly the problem: overuse.

Unique joint

The knee is a weight bearing joint and withstands large forces especially when running and jumping. Such activities can double and quadruple an individual’s body weight; so even one kg weight gain can mean a four kg impact on the knees. A person who is overweight will end up with a bad knee pain.

The knee joint is a unique hinge joint with an intricate design of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilages. It connects the thigh bone (femur) to the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula).

Given the complexity, some knee problems can be hard to tell apart. There are various problems related to the joint. Here’s looking at the most common.

The patella also known as the knee cap is held in place in front of the joint by tendons and ligaments. It glides over the joint when the knee is bent and extended. Patellar tracking disorder occurs when the knee cap shifts too far towards the outside of the leg or, in some cases, inside the leg.

It’s very common for the patella not to glide properly when the knee is bent. If it moves out of its groove, pain is the result. If the patella is out of alignment, there is discomfort especially while going down the stairs, sitting for a long time, and standing up from a sitting position or squatting. It feels like as if the knee cap is grinding, slipping, catching, buckling while bending or straightening up the leg.

Causes: Over use in sports; anatomically the knee cap could be placed either too high or too low; prolonged sitting; activities that place undue stress on the knee cap alignment; a severe blow or fall; muscle imbalance or weakness (especially hamstring or calf muscles) and poor foot posture.

Treatment: It’s important to strengthen the muscles in front of the thighs (Quadriceps). As the name suggests it involves four muscles (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and intermedialis) that connect together. Strengthening the vastus medialis in particular may begin to resolve the problem.

Increase flexibility by regular stretching exercises. Plan a specific exercise plan with the doctor or physiotherapist. Stretching legs and hips both before and after any activity is important.

Cycling and swimming are also good options. Last but not the least, maintain ideal body weight.

Don’ts

Don’t bend the knee for a prolonged period

Don’t participate in high impact exercises such as running and climbing stairs

Don’t over use the knee joint

Don’t do deep squats

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