Physiotherapists explore knee pain; benefits of laser therapy

2nd January 2014 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Healthy Living

Physiotherapists explore knee pain; benefits of laser therapy

by  Niall McGregor – Kelowna Capital News

Do you have pain in the front of your knee under your knee cap? Does it get worse with walking, running, squatting, stairs and prolonged sitting?

If so, you may have a condition called patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Your patella (knee cap) is a small bone embedded in the quadriceps (at the front of your thigh).

Your patella sits above your femur (thigh bone) and together they make up the patellofemoral joint. Normally, the patella will glide along a groove in the femur when you bend and straighten your knee.

Abnormal tracking of the patella which is often caused by a muscle imbalance, lack of flexibility or poor biomechanics can increase the compression forces at the patellofemoral joint which may result in wearing of the cartilage on the undersurface of the patella.

The quadriceps is actually a group of muscles that pull on the patella in slightly different directions.

One muscle of the quadriceps that tends to be weaker is the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) which is responsible for pulling the patella inwards.

The VMO will often need to be strengthened, since it becomes inhibited when you have knee pain and swelling.

Weakness around the hip muscles is often another area that needs to be addressed with a strengthening program to improve the alignment at the knee.

Tight muscles are another possible cause that can contribute to abnormal tracking of the patella.

It is important to warm up properly prior to exercise and stretch tight structures around the knee which may include the IT band, hamstrings and calf muscles.

Just as it is important to strengthen the muscles around your hips if they are weak, it is important to look at the structure of the foot.

Flat feet may also contribute to patellofemoral pain. It is important to wear a good quality supportive shoe that is appropriate for your foot.

Arch supports or custom orthotics may also help improve the biomechanics of the foot and can help to prevent overpronation and alleviate pain at the knee.

Since the causes of patellofemoral pain syndrome are often multi-factorial, it may be beneficial to see a physiotherapist to determine a specific treatment plan that is right for you.

This may include education about appropriate footwear, strengthening exercises, stretching exercises, manual therapy and taping.

—submitted by Krista Smith, a registered physiotherapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy. She can be contacted at the downtown, St. Paul Street location or email