knee-anatomyThe knee joint is the largest joint in the body. It takes three bones articulating with one another to create it: the lower portion of the femur, the upper portion of the tibia and the patella. As a result of it being a large and complex joint (due to a variety of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to support and protect it) it takes a lot of wear and tear.
There are so many varieties of injuries and conditions of the knee all of which can be helped and prevented by working on strengthening the optimal tracking of the patella (the shield-shaped bone in the front of the knee). Imbalance in the tracking of the patella can lead to conditions such as; chondromalacia patella syndrome, patella tendinitis, and patella misalignment. The improper tracking of the patella can create bad alignment in the entire knee joint which can result in injuries including: Meniscus Injuries and ligament tears ( Anterior Cruciate Ligament-ACL, Lateral Collateral Ligament-LCL, Medial Collateral Ligament-MCL, and the Posterior Collateral ligament -PCL).
Imbalance in the Quadriceps muscle is a major contributing factor to poor tracking and alignment issues in the knee joint that can cause knee strain and knee sprain. Patella subluxation (dislocation) can be a result of the Quadriceps muscles, retinacula, or patella tendon being pulled too hard. Overuse or over excessive loading of the knee joint can also result in patellar and quadriceps tendinitis (inflammation). Knee issues are very painful and can take a long time to heal so it is of great value to take care of and strengthen them.
The Quadriceps muscle is made up of four muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialus, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris). This is the large outer muscle group in the front of the upper portion of the leg. It originates at the hip bone and inserts via the patella ligament to the tibia and is used in extension of the knee joint. In many people (mostly women) (see high heel article) the outer quadriceps is overused and the inner quadriceps is weaker. This imbalance is what creates the poor tracking issue. The patella is literally pulled outward and upward more frequently. This constant outer pulling effects the meniscus (cushioning and shock-absorbers in the knee) as well as the tendons and ligaments. This creates an instability in the knee joint. The inner Quadriceps need to be strengthened to keep the balance of the Qaudriceps muscle and the tracking of knee in alignment. Imagine … pulley system imagine one rope pulled much tighter than the string on the other side eventually it would teeter off
Even though Vastus Lateralis is not used to flex the ankle joint, it is used in the action of extension of the knee. This next exercise is really an isometric contraction of the muscle(it does not move but is toned and used to stabilize).
Place a pillow under your knee to avoid hyper extension of the knee joint (see article on pillows and bolsters for joint support for more tips). Gently flex and point your foot letting the toes relax and go along for the ride. There should be no excess tension in the foot. The focus is on the inner Quadriceps muscle (just above the knee toward the mid line of the body). One should see this area of the muscle slightly bulge or at least feel some sensation there. This is an indicator that it is being done correctly. Do up to ten repetitions on each side. If that feels like enough then stop there. Feel free to repeat a second set. This simple exercise is very effective in helping the balance of the Quadriceps muscle and subsequently in the tracking of the patella. It is great to have an “exercise” you can do on the couch!
Biking (done in a moderate level) is also an effective way to help in the strengthening and tracking of the patella and subsequently the entire knee joint.
This exercise is meant as a preventative measure for enhanced health and does not substitute for personalized physical therapy or medical advise. For acute or chronic knee pain please visit your doctor.

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2 Thoughts on “Understanding knee pain

  1. Pingback: Understanding Knee Pain Sensible living | Joint Pain Relief

  2. Jordan Nussbaum on August 9, 2012 at 3:02 am said:

    Joint pain can be caused by dislocated joint or some damage to it. Better get an x-ray on the affected area to know the cause. ,“*”

    Many thanks

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