I have painful and noisy knee cap! Do I have arthritis?
Many people who suffer from knee pain, complain of a nagging pain that seems to arise from behind the knee cap. They don’t recall any precipitating injury, only that the knee has to got gradually sore and, now, affects daily activities such as climbing stairs crouching or sitting with the knees bent for long periods and sometimes it develops this grinding noise.
The Knee Joint
The knee is composed mainly of two joints
- One between the Shin bone and Thigh Bone known as Tibio-Femoral Joint
- Another one between the Knee Cap and the Thigh Bone known as Patella-Femoral Joint
How the Knee Joint works?
As the knee cap moves quite freely when the knee is straight, the Patella-Femoral joint relies on structures that stabilise the knee cap centred in the femoral groove as it moves up and down when you bend and straighten the knee (i.e. going up the stairs, squatting).
What causes discomfort in Knees?
Sometimes, due to imbalances on these structures, specific weakness and poor stability in the hip or ankle joints or even an imbalanced workout at the gym, this tracking of the kneecap on the thigh bone, just behind it, goes wrong and you can hear and feel the friction, which will sooner or later lead to discomfort in the front of the knee. As demonstrated, this tends to be purely dysfunctional, therefore an appropriate course of Physiotherapy will help you normalise the function and balance of the knee and other lower limb structures in order to improve your symptoms.
Now, answering the question, there may be some wear and tear (i.e. osteoarthritis) of these surfaces that slide on each other, but it doesn’t mean your pain arises from it, as even people with some level arthritis tend to respond well to Physiotherapy.
- Smith B, Selfe J, Thacker D, Hendrick P, Bateman M, Moffatt F, et al. Incidence and Prevalence of Patellofemoral Pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2018; 13: e0190892.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190892
- Petersen W, Ellermann A, Gösele-Koppenburg A, et al. Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2014; 22(10):2264–2274
- Kapandji ,I.A., The Physiology of the Joints, Volume 2: Lower Limb, 5Ed, Churchill Livingstone - Elsevier.
- Norris, R. & Massey, D. (2018), Patellar Dislocation, The Knee Resource [WWW document] https://thekneeresource.com/conditions/patellar-dislocation/ [accessed 9th November 2018]