The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. The knee joins the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (the fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are the other bones that make the knee joint.
The knee joints serve a vital role holding up our bodyweight and are put through even more pressure when you walk, run or jump. Knee pain is very common, both from sport injuries and the wear and tear of day-to-day life.
Knee pain can come from injuries including sprains, swollen or torn ligaments (anterior cruciate ligament or ACL), meniscus or cartilage tears and runner's knee.
Conditions that can cause knee pain
Tendonitis. This is an overuse injury causing swelling of the tendons, the bands of tissue that connect your bones and muscles. This is sometimes called 'jumper's knee' as it is common in sports involving jumping, such as basketball.
Bone chips. Sometimes, a knee injury can break off fragments from the bone or cartilage. These pieces can get stuck in the joint, causing it to freeze up. You may also have pain and swelling.
Housemaid's kneeor bursitisis caused by kneeling for long periods of time or repetitive knee movements. Fluid builds up in the bursa, the sac of fluid that cushions the knee joints. Swelling behind the knee is called a 'Baker's cyst' and may be caused by injuries or arthritis.
Bleeding in the knee joint.This injury is also called haemarthrosis and affects blood vessels around the knee ligaments causing the knee to feel warm, stiff, bruised and swollen. This may require hospital treatment in severe cases.
Iliotibial band syndrome.This is an overuse injury to the iliotibial band of tissue that runs from the hip to the shin past the knee.
Medial plica syndrome.This overuse injury affects the plica, a fold of tissue in the knee joint.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease. This overuse condition is common in teenagers playing sport and causes swelling and tenderness over the bony bump just below the knee.
Partially dislocated kneecap (or patellar subluxation).This is usually due to a physical condition with the legs rather than a sports injury. The kneecap slides out of position and causes pain and swelling.
It is not unusual for long/ultra distance walkers to experience knee pain as many of today's races tale place on short courses, often with very tight "turn points'. All this puts presssure on the knees.
Stretching is often essential to prevent many strains to various parts of our bodies - back, glutes, hamstrings, quads as well as the knees. So, to prevent knee pain, aid recovery and keep yourself free of pain there are stretches which can help.
There are lots of websites offering advice on stretching , etc, see links on the right for the Run & Become video on stretching and formore information on knee pain from the NHS.
There are lots of websites offering advice on stretching , etc.
Sports shopRun and Becomehas developed a short video to help. Although these stretches are aimed at helping runners who experience knee pain during or after exercise, they are common sense for everyone (even walkers): view:3 Essential Stretches for Runners[external link]