When is a Pain in the Knee Not A Pain in the Knee?
Your knee may be sore, but that’s not necessarily where the problem lies. Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s Dave Duffy explains.
Every year, Yorkshire Knee Clinic consultants will see patients who swear they have knee pain. You’d think it would be a simple thing to identify, but actually everyone’s body can play tricks on them from time to time.
So whenever you talk to us about knee pain, a complete examination will need to include the joint above (the hip) and the joint below (the ankle). One reason for this is that one of the nerves that transmits pain to the knee does the same to the hip. So there’s crossover – which is how a problem in the hip can feel like knee pain.
When you stand, your weight doesn’t just go through your knee. It goes through all the joints in your leg. When all those joints are aligned, the load and stress forces are distributed evenly. But when a joint is out of alignment it has the potential to affect the joints above and below, placing additional stress on them that can lead to premature wear and pain.
You’ll see classic examples of alignment issues with people who are ‘bow-legged’ or ‘knock-kneed’. Again, pain may feel isolated to one joint, but that may not be the joint causing the problem.
The final element in this sort of ‘rogue’ pain is the load you place through your knee. Most of us don’t think about how we walk any more than we think about how we breathe, but your walking gait can create pain problems. Gait can be altered by a vast range of factors, from osteoarthritis to muscle weakness, trauma and disease to obesity, but the outcome can be knee pain that originates somewhere other than the knee.
If we feel the problem is gait- (rather than knee-) related we may refer you to a gait analyst. Gait analysis assesses how your foot lands when you walk and the way you transfer weight across the foot with each step. Resolving the issue may not require surgery – physiotherapy and even specialist insoles or shoe supports could be the answer.
So if you’re suffering knee pain, don’t be surprised if we examine your ankle, your hip or your gait too. It may be that’s where the problem really lies. To find out what’s behind your knee pain, talk to us.