The Menisci are the crescent-shaped cartilaginous wedges that sit on each side within the knee joint. They help keep the joint stable and act as shock absorbers for the knee.
In the sporting population, the menisci are commonly injured by twisting with the foot anchored on the ground. In the older population, degenerative changes in the menisci mean that they can be injured with much less force.
Symptoms can be present immediately or take up to 24 hours to present. They include:
- Pain, stiffness and swelling in the knee
- Audible popping
- Joint locking or the inability to straighten the knee
- Clicking or giving way
Due to poor blood supply, the menisci have poor healing capacity. Depending on the size of the tear and effect on function, arthroscopic surgery may be necessary. If surgery is required, physiotherapy is an important part of the post-operative rehabilitation process to ensure optimal recovery and return to sport.
Small or degenerative tears often respond well to physiotherapy management.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage covering the joint surface (which makes it smooth) breaks down and leaves bone rubbing on bone during movement.
- Family History
- History of injury to the knee
- Long term overuse (i.e. work or sport)
Symptoms vary in intensity depending on severity of the joint degenerative changes and can include:
- Knee pain at rest, or during weight bearing activity
- Stiffness in the morning or after rest
- Pain at night
- Knee deformity (bowing in or out)
- Reduced movement
- Chronic swelling that doesn't improve with rest or medication
Depending on severity, your GP may send you to see an orthopaedic surgeon for further investigations and to consider surgical management such as knee replacement surgery or arthroscopic/keyhole surgery.
Although there is no cure, physiotherapy can go a long way to help manage the pain from arthritis and improve quality of life. Treatment includes:
- Pain management (acupuncture, electrotherapy, massage)
- Exercise Prescription (stronger muscles support the joint for less pain and better mobility)
- Hydrotherapy (exercise in a pool takes the weight off your knee joint and allows you to improve your fitness and strength without increasing your pain)
Other health professionals at Advantage Healthcare and Physiotherapy may also be able to help, including a dietitian for weight loss, exercise physiologists for help with daily exercise and fitness, and massage therapists for pain relief.
Knee/Anterior Knee Pain (Patellofemoral Pain)
Pain at the front of the knee can often be the result of rubbing between the kneecap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur). If the kneecap tracks outwardly in the joint space, it will rub on one side when the thigh muscles are used such as during walking, running, or going up and down stairs.
- Muscle imbalance in the thigh (muscles on the outside of the thigh pull the kneecap outwardly if the inside muscle is weak or inhibited)
- Rolling in of the foot, which causes the knee to rotate inwards and alter the angle of pull on the kneecap
- Weakness around the outside of the hip, which leads to compensatory tightness of the ITB (iliotibial band) and pulls the kneecap outwards.
Your Advantage Healthcare and Physiotherapy physiotherapist will assess you to see which factors are causing your knee pain and work to address them. They will use techniques such as massage, acupuncture, stretching, strengthening and taping to reduce pain and restore kneecap alignment during muscle activation. If needed, they can also prescribe orthotics or refer you to a podiatrist to correct poor foot mechanics that are contributing to your knee pain.