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Physical Therapy For Knees: Ways To Deal With Your Knee Pain

Knee pain is common among people due to several reasons like arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, injury or any kind of trauma. It limits the activities of an individual and causes them difficulties while sitting, walking or climbing stairs. Physical therapy for knees is very important to understand the cause of the pain, type of the pain and its correct treatment. Also, the location of the pain helps to analyse which part of the knees is facing problems and provide ways for proper treatment.

Knees help provide stability and mobility to the legs. But if we look closer, several other muscles help in its function like hips and ankle joints. Therefore, if a problem occurs in any such muscles, the stability of knees is affected. Thus, along with therapy for knees, therapies for its chain muscles like hips and ankles are also essential to maintain the overall strength, stability and balance of the body.[1]


Types Of Knee Pain

Understanding the type of knee pain is important as it helps to diagnose the condition well and get the correct treatment. The types of knee pain are as follows:

  • Acute pain: Lasts for around 1-7 days after injury
  • Sub-acute pain: Lasts for 2-6 weeks after injury
  • Chronic knee pain: Lasts for greater than 8-12 weeks

How Physical Therapy For Knees Are Carried Out

Physical therapy for knee pain is done by an expert known as a physical therapist who first checks for the history of the patient and their medical conditions, and then proceeds for the proper treatment. The process includes the following:

  • Palpation: It involves analyzing the knee area with hands for any abnormalities in its structures and to find the exact pain area.
  • Gait analysis: It involves the assessment of human motion during walking and any other changes in the knee area.
  • Balance assessment: To check for impaired motion, balance-related issues and the kind of stress causing the knee pain.
  • Motion range: To check for the flexibility of knees by bending or straightening it.
  • Swelling tests: To find out any kind of swelling or injury in the knees responsible for knee pain.

Physical Therapy Exercises For Knee Pain

Exercises are the main tool to treat knee pain of any kind. Common knee-based exercises to treat the condition are as follows:


1. Leg Lifts or Leg Raise

It is done to strengthen the muscles of the stomach and front of the thigh to avoid knee pain due to these muscles.

How to do:

  • Lie down with a flat back
  • Bend the right leg bringing the foot towards the body
  • Keep the left leg straight on the floor
  • Keep the hand straight on the floor and close to the body
  • Lift the left leg slowly with toes towards the ceiling. Don't bend the knees and remember not to take the legs above the knee level of the right leg.
  • Hold in the position for 5 seconds
  • Lower the left leg slowly back to the floor.
  • Repeat the process at least 5 times and then switch the sides.

2. Squats

It is done to strengthen the quadriceps and gluteal muscles (the three muscles of the buttocks).

How to do:

  • Stand with your back facing the wall.
  • Step forward with both the feet around 24 inches from the wall.
  • Make sure the shoulders and back are still touching the wall and the legs are not touching each other
  • Bend through the knees and hips slowly like a normal sitting position
  • Hold the position for around five seconds and then return to the normal position
  • Repeat the process 10 times

3. Hamstring stretch (Lying)

This exercise helps to treat knee pain caused due to weak hamstrings (rear portion of the upper legs).

How to do:

  • Lie down with a flat back keeping the legs straight.
  • Lift the left leg slowly, place hands behind the thigh, bend the knee towards the chest and then move it upward and straight until you feel the stretch.
  • Hold the position for 30-60 seconds
  • Bend the leg slowly and then place it back to the floor
  • Perform the same with another leg
  • Repeat the process around 10 times

4. Chair dips

This exercise strengthens the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (rear of the upper leg), hip flexors, and gluteal muscles (three buttock muscles).

How to do:

  • Use stable chairs or perform the exercise near the bed.
  • Stand with your back facing the bed or the chair
  • Bend down with both the knees making the balance with your hands holding the chair backwards.
  • Slowly bring one leg in front like a kick and hold the position for 5 seconds while you balance the body with the other leg.
  • Stand straight and then repeat the process with the other leg.
  • Repeat the process for around 10 times.

5. Toe touching

This exercise helps to treat knee pain caused due to muscle stretch present in the back portion of the legs.

How to do:

  • Bring both the foot close to each other, bend from the hips bringing the arms towards the toe and touch it. Avoid bending the legs while you perform the exercise.
  • Hold the position for around 30 seconds.
  • Avoid bending suddenly. At first, you may not be able to touch the toes, but try to bend slowly as much as you can.
  • Repeat the process 10 times

Final Note: Knee pain is a major health issue among individuals of older age. People with knee pain face may problems in their day-to-day activities, especially during walking, climbing stairs or sitting. Physical therapy is the best way to deal with your knee pain and make your knee joint strong and mobile.

View Article References
  1. [1] Abdel-Aziem, A. A., Soliman, E. S., Mosaad, D. M., & Draz, A. H. (2018). Effect of a physiotherapy rehabilitation program on knee osteoarthritis in patients with different pain intensities. Journal of physical therapy science, 30(2), 307–312. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.307
Story first published: Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 11:00 [IST]
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