Injury is the most common cause of knee pain, such as a sporting injury, or a sudden blow to the knee through twisting, bending or falling which resulted in instant pain, swelling and tenderness. The outcome of this blow could be a sprain, strain, tear, fracture or even dislocation.
If your knee pain is a result of an injury, then it is recommended that you see a medical professional who can assess your injury, for example, a physiotherapist. In most cases, the medical professional will be able to diagnose the injury and recommend the next steps you need to make. This may include the rehabilitation of the injury which they can help you with, or seeing a knee specialist and going for an MRI scan.
Once you have had the injury assessed and diagnosed, it is important that you start your rehab programme, and stick to this programme in order to return to where you were pre-injury. Your physio will provide you with a number of exercises to perform. The selection of exercises prescribed will be based around the severity of your injury and the stage of your progression.
Knee pain that is not caused by injury may be the result of underdeveloped muscles, in particular, those that surround the knee. Lateral knee pain or pain on the outside of the knee is the most common and is usually the result of improper tracking of the patella (knee cap). This is generally caused by an underdeveloped vastus medialis (one of the quadriceps muscles) which creates an uneven pull on each side of the knee cap.
In order to fix this problem, you need to strengthen the vastus medialis. This can be done using the terminal knee extension exercise (TKE) as seen below which involves working the vastus medialis through its full range – the final 15 degrees of knee extension.
Terminal Knee Extension
- Stabilise your hip with your standing leg and position the band around the back of your knee.
- In a controlled movement bend your knee and roll onto the ball of your foot.
- Extend your knee, placing your heel on the floor and contracting your quad muscles.
- Aim to complete or build up to 3 sets of 20 reps.
Strength exercises to avoid knee pain
In order to reduce the risk of knee injury, or knee re-injury, it is important that you strengthen the muscles and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) around the knee. Here are a few exercises to strengthen the lower limb:
Trap Bar Deadlift
Body Weight Hip Bridge
Important to note
The above information is not intended to be medical advice tailored specifically for you. The first steps towards dealing with your knee injury should be to meet with a medical professional and have your knee assessed so you have a proper diagnosis for your pain. The professional in question can then help you with the rehabilitation of your knee by creating a personalised rehabilitation programme.