The knee, like the elbow, is a hinge joint, which means that it flexes (bends) or extends (straightens out). The knee has two joints, the Patellofemoral and the Tibiofemoral. Major muscle groups such as the Quadriceps and the Hamstrings attach to the Tibia (leg bone) to control all weight bearing activities. Pain in the knee could be from numerous sources. Inflammation of any of the many muscles that cross the knee can cause severe debilitating pain at the knee and limit much function. Many patients over the age of 65 will immediately opt to have a total knee replacement due to the severe pain at their knee. Many times however, their pain is due to muscle imbalances and weaknesses at the knee causing “temporary arthritis” of the joint resulting in severe pain. For example, inflammation of the Quadriceps muscle group will cause the Patella (knee cap) to grind down against the Femur (thigh bone) with weight bearing. This causes severe pain and lack of weight bearing due to pain. This lack of weight bearing will cause further muscle weakness and more inflammation. This vicious cycle, which usually occurs with hip, knee and ankle injuries, will continue until the source of the inflammation is treated. Once treated, the joint irritation and pain is resolved and the patient usually cancels their scheduled total knee replacement! 85% of the time, pain at the knee is due to muscle inflammation and weakness. Our therapists’ thorough examination of your knees’ ligaments, meniscus and muscles will determine the cause of your pain and help effectively treat the source of your symptoms.
There are numerous causes of pain in the back of the thigh and calf. First, you may be suffering from a strain of the Hamstring muscles, which attach from the base of you hip to the back of your Tibia (shin bone). Of the three Hamstring muscles, one attaches to the central back of the Tibia while the other two attach to the inner and outer aspects of the Tibia and Fibula (outer leg bone). A Hamstring strain will be evident with difficulty straightening out your knee or walking. Inflammation of the Sciatic nerve in the buttock area may cause severe tightening and shooting pain into the back of the thigh and calf. Patients sometimes complaining of pain and swelling in the back of the knee suffer from a Baker’s cyst. This may require a visit to your doctor for further treatment. A calf strain will usually cause pain in the back of the leg but may also refer pain to the inner or outer part of the knee. Hamstring and calf strains are usually diagnosed by feeling muscles knots in the muscles