Laura Dawahare

By

College: Health Sciences

Effective Treatments Available for Knee Cap Pain

Published: May 13, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 13, 2014) -- Knee cap or patellofemoral pain is one of the most common conditions that sports medicine practitioners see.  The condition was once thought to predominately affect adolescents.

 

However, in recent years, it has been recognized as a significant source of pain and disability throughout the life span, curtailing one’s ability to enjoy playing sports, and to perform more basic activities such as going up and down stairs.  There is even emerging evidence that having knee cap pain earlier in life may be one risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis later in life.  The pain may or may not be associated with a feeling of instability.  Thankfully, recent developments have led to effective treatments for individuals with knee cap pain and instability.

 

We have learned over the past decade how important the hip is in the development of knee cap pain.  It is much like the old adage the knee bone is connected to the hip bone.  The knee cap makes contact with the thigh bone.  Thus, if the muscles that control the thigh (hip muscles) are not strong enough or lack good control, they can allow the thigh bone to rotate in a way that causes the knee cap to become excessively loaded on one side. With repeated repetitions, this results in pain. 

 

The good news is that with exercises, given under the proper instruction of a licensed physical therapist, an individual’s pain can be significantly reduced if not eliminated.  These exercises target not only hip weakness but teach the individual when and how to use the muscles to best reduce stress on the knee cap.

 

Knee cap instability also has several promising treatments that have developed over the past decade. Much like knee pain, the first step is to work with a physical therapist on similar hip exercises to see if keeping the thigh bone in a better position will reduce the feelings of instability. Other treatments such as bracing and even orthotics may be used to help reduce symptoms, after the initial bout of instability. If conservative interventions are not successful, then a consultation with a board certified orthopedic surgeon with specialized training in the treatment of knee cap instability is warranted. 

 

The orthopedic surgeon would be able to assess whether the knee cap instability is due to a lax or torn ligament called the medial patellofemoral ligament, or if the instability is due to the shape of the portion of the thigh bone that the knee cap makes contact with.  This portion of the thigh bone is shaped like a U and if it is too shallow it does not give the patella a good track to follow as you bend and extend your knee.  Surgery can help reduce or eliminate the bouts of instability, allowing the individual the ability to more fully engage in activities that they enjoy.

 

Whether suffering from knee cap pain or instability, it is important to seek treatment from a physical therapist or physician who can guide you through the steps of treatment.  We have seen that a wait-and-see approach may cause the perception of pain to grow, even if you decrease the amount of activity you are engaged in.  

 

Brian Noehren, PT, Ph.D., FACSM, is director of the University of Kentucky BioMotion Lab and an assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences Division of Physical Therapy.

 

This column appeared in the May 11, 2014 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader

noehren_brian.jpg
December
 
1
Resumes and Cover Letters
Circle of Love Gift Return
Mon
2
UK Guitar Studio
Circle of Love Gift Return
Tue
3
Networking and Job Search
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Wayne's World
Study Sounds: Classical Concert
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Frozen
Ballet Music of Tchaikovsky
Circle of Love Gift Pick-Up
Live Screening of Orion Spacecraft Re-entry
Massage on the Go
Thu
5
LNFS Presents: Winter's Bone
LNFS Presents: Gremlins
Open Studio
Circle of Love Gift Pick-Up
Fri
6
Snow Skiing @ Perfect North Slopes
Sat
7
Free Holiday Shopping Shuttle to Fayette Mall
Sun
8
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find a Faculty Mentor"
Mon
9
Job Club - Identifying Your Skills
Paws for Stress Relief
Tue
10
 
Wed
11
 
Thu
12
Last Day of Classes
Fri
13
 
Sat
14
Free Holiday Shopping Shuttle to Fayette Mall
Finals Treats
Sun
15
Final Exams
Crunch Brunch
Mon
16
Final Exams
Jazzy Holiday Concert
Tue
17
Final Exams
Caregiver Support Group
Wed
18
Final Exams
Thu
19
Final Exams
End of 2014 Fall Semester
Fri
20
 
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
 
Mon
23
 
Tue
24
 
Wed
25
 
Thu
26
 
Fri
27
 
Sat
28
 
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
 
Tue
31
 
Wed
 
 
 
Dec 19
End of 2014 Fall Semester 12/19/2014

Fri, 12/19/2014

Wed, 01/14/2015

Fri, 01/16/2015

Wed, 01/21/2015

Reset Page