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Unfortunately, knee injuries are a common occurrence in sports and account for up to 41% of all sports injuries. If you are experiencing knee pain while exercising or following an injury, it is essential that you speak to a specialist or your GP about receiving a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis for your knee pain has been confirmed, your Consultant will then be able to advise on the appropriate treatment options for you to alleviate your knee pain and help you to return to playing sport.
We investigate common sports injuries which can cause knee pain, including their available treatment options and the steps you can take to minimise your risk of experiencing an injury.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four knee ligaments. It can tear if you stop or change direction suddenly, or if you land awkwardly from a jump. If you tear your ACL, you may hear a pop or crack at the time of the injury. A torn ACL can result in pain and swelling. Fortunately, effective treatment and pain relief options are available.
Other symptoms of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) include:
After the surgery, you will have the freedom to return to your normal everyday activities without knee pain or the fear of the knee giving way unexpectedly.
Runner’s knee refers to a condition which gives rise to a significant pain on the outside and/or front of the knee. As the name suggests, this condition is highly prevalent in recreational long-distance runners.
The pain itself arises from a combination of pain from the outer aspect of the patellofemoral joint or a friction syndrome related to the iliotibial band as this structure passes over the outer edge of the knee.
The latter problem may be compounded by information to a fluid filled sac known as the iliotibial bursa.
The cause of runner’s knee is thought to lie in a biomechanical dysfunction in which a muscle imbalance develops between the hip flexor muscles and the iliotibial band itself.
These muscles become overactive and inflexible and the development of weakness to the gluteal muscles which extend the hip and contribute to rotational control around the hip and knee.
This dysfunction is thought to arise particularly in recreational runners due to the repetitive forward and backwards motion of the hip and knee without any lateral and rotational movements.
Runners knee treatment involves rectifying these faulty biomechanical patterns by changing training patterns, as well as following a programme of gluteal strengthening exercises and appropriate flexibility regimes.
In some cases, orthotics may be prescribed to help the alignment of the lower limb. Knee protection for runners is an important way to prevent injury. Wearing comfortable running shoes could help reduce your chances of injury. Wearing a compression sleeve over your knee can also help reduce knee pain.
However, the cause of the patellofemoral pain may have a number of reasons, and it is important to identify and treat the specific biomechanical cause of an individual’s pain. You may experience front knee pain cycling, inside knee pain cycling, or pain in another area of your knee.
The body position while cycling has the torso leaned forwards over the handlebars, which places the hip in significant amounts of flexion.
As a result, the hip flexor muscles, and quadriceps muscles of the thigh work repetitively in a very shortened position. This can result in significant muscle tightness and associated tightness of the patellofemoral joint itself.
A further factor in determining the cause of patellofemoral pain among cyclists is to analyse whether there are any biomechanical problems due to over rotation of the knee during the pedalling action.
Due to the significant relationship of cycling posture to cycling related knee pain, this problem is more often seen in road cyclists and triathletes who place their bodies in a more aggressive forward orientated position.
Bike fit is very important, adjusting the height and position of the saddle, handlebars and the positioning and angle of the cleats (if being used) is highly recommended.
An experienced knee doctor will be able to narrow down the potential cause(s) of your knee pain when they talk with you about your symptoms. When the pain started, how long you’ve had it and the type of pain (e.g. sharp stabbing or dull ache) are all things your doctor will talk through with you as they try to get to the bottom of things.
There are some specific clinical tests a doctor may arrange as part of their assessment. As well as a physical examination of the knee, they may sometimes also arrange for you to have an X-ray, MRI scan or CT scan of the knee. A blood test may also be carried out in some situations. (These additional diagnostic tests will not always be needed; you will always be assessed on an individual basis by your consultant, based on your specific symptoms.)
It’s simple to book a time to see one of our experienced knee doctors. Just book an appointment online at a time that is most convenient to you.