Throughout our daily activities, we rely a lot on our bodies, especially our legs. When it comes to trying to keep up with our busy schedules, sport, leisure activities, and daily chores, the last thing we have time for is pain.

The knee is an amazing joint in the fact that it helps carry our bodies through our daily activities.  The knee is made of three bones (Femur (thigh bone), Tibia (shin bone), and Patella (knee cap)), four main ligaments (medial collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament), and the medial and lateral meniscus. 


Each structure plays an important role in the knee joint’s ability to perform and function.  The ligaments are designed to provide stability and ensure efficient movement of the knee, while the menisci are designed to help with shock absorption (reducing force through the bones by ~30%), and increased stability (allowing more surface area contact between the tibia and femur up to ~60%). Finally, like any joint, the knee is surrounded by various muscles that attach to the bony structures through tendons and initiate movement through a shortening and lengthening phase of the muscle fibers. 

When pain first arises there are a lot of thoughts and questions about how it will impact our work and life activities. A lot of those questions can include: How do I know if my knee pain is serious? What is the most common reason for knee pain? What can cause knee pain without injury? What is the best way to relieve knee pain?

How Do I Know if My Knee Pain Is Serious?

We always want to know how serious our injury is and how it will affect our activities.  The seriousness of our injury comes from how the pain started, the mechanism of injury, or how much it impacts our daily activities.  Some guidelines that may warrant imaging include: isolated patellar tenderness (without tenderness over other bones), unable to bend (flex) the knee to 90 degrees, unable to put weight through the knee immediately following an injury and in the emergency department for 4 steps

What Is the Most Common Reason for Knee Pain?

Some of the most common reasons for knee pain include the structural components of a knee (bone, ligament, meniscus), but the surrounding muscle tissue and related tendons can be the culprit as well. Some of those common injuries can include:

  • Ligament injury
  • Meniscus injury
  • Tendon injury
  • Fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Osteoarthritis

What Can Cause Knee Pain Without Injury?

Pain without an actual injury can be confusing and frustrating.  We always want to be able to continue with our daily lives and take care of ourselves so that we can continue doing those things.  So why would pain start to creep in without any reason for it?  There can be a few different reasons for that, but getting an idea of how the pain reacts throughout your day can give your physiotherapist a better understanding of what it could be.  Some potential causes for pain without injury can include overloaded tendons/muscles, or age-related changes to either the bones or the meniscus.

What Is the Best Way To Relieve Knee Pain?

Relieving our pain is always the number one goal so that we can return to our ideal lifestyle.  There are many things that can help relieve pain but some treatments are more effective for certain conditions compared to others.  It is important to not only provide relief in the early stages of an injury but to maintain some movement so that you can continue with your daily activities with as little restriction as possible.  Movement and exercise can be great tools if incorporated correctly into the recovery process and will build a solid foundation for the end stages of your recovery where a greater focus will be on building strength, endurance and stability back into the knee to help limit/minimize the risk of future injuries. The use of massage, joint mobilizations, and acupuncture can also be great ways to help aid with the recovery process and allow for more pain-free movement.

If you are struggling with knee pain, let Miller Health help you through your recovery so that we can make your knees the “bee’s knees” again.

joey timpano physiotherapist resident miller health orillia
Written By: Joey Timpano, PT Resident

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