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Knee Pain

Knee Joint
The Knee joint is made up of three bones: the femur (thigh bone), the tibia (shin bone), and the patella (knee cap). The surface of each bone is covered by smooth cartilage allowing for steady movement as the bones glide over one another. Between the femur and tibia sit the menisci and on either side of the knee joint are ligaments providing stability during movement.

Knee arthritis
Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive wearing away of the smooth, protective cartilage of the joint. As the protective cartilage is worn away by knee arthritis, bare bone is exposed within the joint giving pain, stiffness and swelling.

What are the common symptoms of knee arthritis?
The most common causes of osteoarthritis of the knee are either mechanical, that is slow wear and tear of the knee cartilage due to improper use or direct trauma (car accident/sports injury).  It is important to treat an arthritic problem in the early stages in order to minimise the damage to the cartilage.  The sooner the problem is treated the less chance of secondary problems occurring and a better prognosis is expected.

Osteoarthritis is often the result of a mechanical problem elsewhere in the body such as the hip or low back problem which is creating an increased work load for the knee.  It is for this reason that osteopaths treat the painful area and areas associated with the problem, thus treating the true cause of the problem.

The most common symptoms of knee arthritis are:

  • Pain
  • Limited  motion
  • Stiffness 
  • Swelling 
  • Tenderness 
  • Deformity of the joint  

Meniscal Damage:

What is the meniscus? 
There are two menisci in the knee each made of tough cartilage. Their function is to allow the bones of the knee to smoothly glide against each other without causing damage to the bone.

What happens with a meniscus tear (torn cartilage)? 
The two most common causes of a meniscus tear are due to trauma (often seen in athletes) or degeneration (seen in older patients).

It is often thought that menisci are irreparable and that surgery is therefore the only solution.  Whilst it may be true that the menisci’s ability to repair is poor the body has a remarkable ability to adapt.  The job of the osteopath is to find a way for the body to cope with the meniscal tear by addressing the surrounding tissues; the muscles and ligaments as well as the mechanics of the leg in general.

What are the symptoms of a meniscus tear?

  • Knee pain
  • Knee locking
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness when pressing on the meniscus
  • Popping or clicking within the knee
  • Limited motion of the knee joint
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