Situated at opposite ends of the femur bone, the hip and the knee joints are two of the most important joints in the human body. The hip’s ball and socket structure allows the leg to have a greater range of motion, while the configuration of ligaments within the knee help support the tremendous weight of the upper body, while allowing only flexion and extension movements. They are key joints in providing humans with the ability to climb stairs, squat, and run long distances with greater efficiency.
While the knees and hips are critical aspects of human physiology, they can be prone to injury and damage. Repetitive or intense physical activity like soccer, running, or squatting can cause knee pain. Thankfully, however, there are ways to overcome both hip and knee pain, and help you return to your daily activities. Please use the following only as guidelines, and reach out to a Physical Therapist if you have other questions.
Think of your femur like train tracks, and the patella – knee cap – is the train. If the “tracks” were not stable in the ground, the train would not run along them as it should. Similarly, the patellar can glide laterally in the groove of the femur, causing generalized knee pain and instability. It is important to work on your squatting mechanics and knee alignment, especially if you have pain with activities such going up and down the stairs, or sitting for long periods of time. Dr. Natalie also performs a McConnell taping procedure which repositions the knee, allowing for accurate diagnosis and relief during activities.
Ice is an excellent, natural way to help reduce both pain and inflammation. Since hip and knee pain can be the result of some kind of structural damage, there is very often some associated inflammation that occurs. This is definitely more common in acute injuries of the knee. This swelling is the body beginning the process of healing the damaged tissue by flooding the injury site with various types of cells. However, although swelling is a natural part of the healing process, it can also cause discomfort. Putting an ice compress on the injury for twenty minutes, and then removing it for twenty can help reduce swelling and numb the joint. Although the pain relief may only be temporary, when the ice is removed and the blood vessels dilate, fresh blood and healing cells rush to the site and help to speed up the healing process.
Better yet, find a spot that offers local cryotherapy: the use of nitrogen vapor to cool the skin by up to 40 degrees and completely rid the area of inflammation. If you are in the Twin Cities, check out Halo Cryotherapy.
During the excitement of exercise, stretching and recovery has the tendency to be tossed by the wayside. Those who live an active lifestyle often spend so much time on the go, that stretching can seem like a waste of time. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as stretching is a great way to minimize and prevent injury of all your joints. There is, however, a difference in stretching to increase flexibility of your muscles, and using self myofascial release or targeting stretching to increase mobility.
Should you find that your knee and hip pain is persisting beyond these simple tips, or you would like to get started on a stretching/strengthening program, then it is important to schedule a consultation. Sometimes the cycle of injury lingers and needs manual intervention by a physical therapist to break that cycle and promote tissue healing. Chronic hip and knee pain can be indicative of more serious underlying disorders, and communicating effectively with your doctor and physical therapist is a great way to make sure that your body is performing to its full potential.
If you have questions or want to get scheduled, call Reneu Sport + Health today to speak with our expert Physical Therapist and learn more about how we can help you!