The knee is the largest joint in the body. The patella is the kneecap, it slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Fluid- filled sacs form a gliding surface for the tendons to reduce friction. The meniscus is the soft cartilage between the two joints formed by the femur and the tibia. The femur is the lower end of the thigh bone, and rotates on the tibia (the shinbone) To add even more structure to the knee and the kneecap- there are various ligaments- The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) - The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) -The Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) – and finally - the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL).
It’s no wonder that there is such a variety of issues that can arise with this complex but marvelous movement of the human body. Runners put their knees and their kneecaps through a whole host of vigorous straining motions on a constant basis, creating friction with every step taken. Alpine skiing with its sharp turns and twists, basketball jumps with quick starts and stops, running, jogging, all can cause pain with overuse.
This sets the stage for chronic pain that the much less active knee would never come in contact with. And knee pain can appear quickly and without warning due to extreme overuse or twisting. The meniscus can tear, ligaments can be over-stretched and cause pain, running with the wrong shoes or in the wrong motion can cause over-pronating and bring on ailments as well.
The first step toward the healing process is to recognize when pain first begins and act accordingly.
You can ice the knee using cold packs to bring down the swelling. And you can use hot packs to promote healthy blood flow.
Use deep tissue wraps to increase blood flow. After an injury, blood flow slows down due to lack of activity and due to swelling. Scar tissue builds up as the knee heals. The scar tissue decreases the range of motion in the knee. You can also tape some of the ligaments with Kenesio tape. Topical products such as Biofreeze® or Sombra Gel® can be very effective in reducing pain and increasing mobility.
Ultrasound therapy breaks down the scar tissue, reduces inflammation, and gets rid of toxins from the tissues.
A growing number of healthcare professionals are using laser treatments to reduce pain and promote healing. Treatment times vary based on the type of laser and the strength of the laser used.
When you do get back to running, run on softer surfaces and ease into your exercise routine. Increase mileage less than 10% per week to build endurance slowly back up. Wear proper shoes. Running on banked surfaces causes one leg to become the short leg. Make sure to balance out by switching off on the right or left banked surface. Enjoy, but run with caution!