Physiotherapy for Hip and Knee Pain

How Can Physiotherapy Give You Relief From Hip and Knee Pain?

Farryl Roth – Physiotherapist

November 01 2020

If you or someone you know experiences pain and discomfort in your hip and knee when getting up from a chair, bending down to fetch something, walking across the road, or even going up and down the stairs, physiotherapy is widely known to help ease your pain, stiffness, and weakness by targeting your problem areas to decrease pain and boost mobility over time. Frequent sessions may even remove the need for pain-management tablets or surgical means completely.

If you are currently struggling with hip and knee pain, I want you to know that we are here to help you reduce your pain over the short term and the long term.

Understanding Hip and Knee Pain

Your hip and knee joints play an important role and are the body’s largest joints. The hips must support the entire weight of your upper body, while your knees must support all of that weight plus the weight of the hips and thighs. Additionally, these joints must be able to bend and remain flexible so that you can stand, walk, run, sit, play sports, and perform other everyday tasks without losing your balance. With this in mind, it makes sense how these demands can lead to hip or knee pain either occasionally, or regularly.

Because your hips and knees are both connected to your kinetic chain, the pain felt in one joint usually means pain and deterioration felt in the other

Analysing Hip and Knee Pain

The first thing a physiotherapist will do is an evaluation to determine where you’re experiencing pain, how severe it is, and how often it occurs. Hip pain tends to feel like a regular uncomfortable, dull ache. Pain in the knee, however, is often evaluated as one of several different types of pain, such as:

  • Acute Pain: This is the most severe pain and occurs in the first week after injury.
  • Sub-Acute Pain: Subacute pain also occurs after an injury but lingers for approximately two to six weeks.
  • Chronic Knee Pain: Pain lasting longer than two to three months. Chronic knee pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or orthopedic knee surgeon.

Common Causes of Hip and Knee Pain

The structures in your hips and knees are very similarly connected, which is why they can be subject to similar stresses, diseases, disorders, and injuries. Here are some of the most common causes of hip pain and knee pain: 

  • Overuse Injuries: Pushing your hip and knee’s too hard, by going for a long run for example, without adequate stretching can lead to muscle strains and tendonitis, which are both common in the hip and knees.
  • Torn Meniscus: Meniscus tears are one of the more common knee injuries people experience and the pain can be severe and long-lasting. If you suddenly twist your knee by doing some physical activity, the meniscus can be torn. A physical therapist can provide safe and effective treatment for a torn meniscus – without the need for surgery.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis occurs when a small sac of fluid known as the “bursa” prevents friction between bones and soft tissues, causing it to become painfully inflamed. This is a common condition as we age and can also be brought on by overuse or repetitive injuries.
  • Strains, sprains, and ruptures: Strains and sprains happen when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or torn. Repetitive movement or acute injuries can cause a strain (damage to muscles or tendons) or a sprain (hyperextension of a ligament). Usually, high-performance athletes are vulnerable to ruptures of the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
  • Runner’s knee: An unbalanced kneecap can lead to chronic knee pain. Other health or lifestyle challenges can worsen a case of hip or knee pain, such as being overweight. Likewise, lack of exercise can allow the muscles to weaken, which leads to joint instability.
  • Fractures: Knee bones can be broken easily during a sudden event or tragedy, such as a sporting car accident. Knee fracture risk increase as we age, due to many people developing osteoporosis which weakens the bones. Physiotherapy can help to reduce pain and inflammation after a fracture and increase mobility over time.

Long-lasting Relief With Physical Therapy

Whether you are a short or long term sufferer of hip or knee pain, the goal of physiotherapy is to help reduce the pain and improve overall functional mobility. At Integral physiotherapy, we develop a custom treatment program to improve your motion and strength. It does take some time and effort on your part, but physiotherapy has shown to help reduce hip and knee pain for patients of all ages and backgrounds.

There are a variety of treatment methods a physiotherapist may use to help limit or relieve both knee and hip pain, such as:

  • Identifying the cause: There may be one or many different reasons why you are experiencing pain in your hip or knee. We’ll first examine your movement to help identify things that are contributing to your pain, such as family history, poor posture, unhealthy walking patterns, both at home or work. Once we identify problem areas, we can then advise you on how to correct them.
  • Manual and trigger point therapy: By identifying the problematic areas that cause or contribute to injury, We can begin to treat the muscle, joint, or nerves that are damaged with joint mobilisation and trigger point therapy. This hands-on approach is often the best way to tackle these injuries.
  • Mobility and flexibility exercises: If you don’t stretch regularly or do any exercises, it can lead to loss of mobility and flexibility, which then increases the wear on your joints and leads to severe pain later on. The right physiotherapy exercises help you to improve your mobility and flexibility so that you can move your limbs and joints to their full range of motion.
  • Strength exercises: With physical therapy exercises, you’ll build up your strength over time, and may even get much stronger than you were before. The added strength allows your muscles to better support your joints when you are putting pressure on them.
  • Heat and ice therapy: In physiotherapy, heat is used to improve your mobility and decrease the amount of pain you are feeling. Ice is also used to lower pain levels from your hip and/or knee as well as to reduce inflammation. Heat and ice therapy is most effective when used in combination.