Common Source for Knee Pain, Swelling, Clicking, and Other Problems for Athletes:
Running and exercise play an integral role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, knee clicking and pain during these activities can be distressing and may hinder your performance. Understanding the causes, potential risks, and appropriate preventive measures is crucial for both recreational and serious athletes. In this blog post, we will explore the common reasons behind knee clicking and pain, discuss when to seek medical attention, and provide helpful tips to prevent and manage these issues.
Knee clicking, often accompanied by pain, can be caused by various factors. One common reason is the presence of air or gas bubbles within the joint. When you bend or straighten your knee, these bubbles can create a clicking or popping sound. Another cause may be patellar tracking disorder, where the kneecap doesn’t move smoothly in its groove, resulting in misalignment and clicking.
Additionally, knee clicking can be linked to overuse or improper biomechanics during physical activities. Insufficient warm-up, sudden changes in exercise intensity or volume, improper footwear, muscle imbalances, and weak quadriceps or hamstrings can contribute to abnormal movement patterns, leading to knee clicking and pain.
Knee pain during running and exercise can originate from different structures within the knee joint. Common sources of pain include patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), IT band syndrome, meniscus tears, ligament sprains, and tendinitis. PFPS, characterized by pain around or behind the kneecap, is often associated with poor tracking and muscle imbalances.
IT band syndrome causes pain on the outer side of the knee due to inflammation of the iliotibial band. Meniscus tears and ligament sprains can result from sudden twists or direct impact. Tendinitis refers to the inflammation of tendons, such as patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee) or iliotibial band tendinitis.
It is important to identify the specific cause of knee pain accurately to determine appropriate treatment and prevent further complications and fix the underlying compensation patterns that led to the irritation in the first place.
Strengthening exercises are a crucial piece to the puzzle of healing. Engaging in a regular strengthening program that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles can help improve knee stability and reduce the risk of knee clicking and pain. Proper warm-up is very important to set the stage for success before training. Before any physical activity, ensure a comprehensive warm-up routine that includes dynamic stretching and exercises to increase blood flow and prepare the muscles and joints for movement. With sports physical therapy and examination of athletes, the biomechanical assessment tells us more of the story at the joint level. As sports physical therapists we assess your movement patterns and address any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to knee problems (e.g. limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion and posterior hip joint mobility).
Jumper’s Knee because it is often seen in athletes whose sports involve a lot of explosive motions and usually jumping. This is common in basketball players, volleyball players, and sometimes runners. Jumping involves a quick and rapid load to the tendon that it needs to be able to absorb and quickly rebound and produce force in the opposite direction. When this is done with too much load it can acutely lead to inflammation of the patellar tendon. The patellar tendon is what connects your tibia (shin bone) to your patella (knee cap). When this is done chronically over a long period of time it leads to tissue disrepair and ultimately a tendinopathy as has been previously discussed.
People with this condition will often feel pain either right at the connection point to the knee cap or right at the connection point to the tibia, this varies based on age. In younger children and adolescents who are still growing it is more often at the connection to the tibia and this load can sometimes develop into Osgood-Schlatters, this will be talked about in a future newsletter. In adults it is more common to have pain right beneath the patella. This can often be tender to touch when the person has their knee totally extended and relaxed and pressure is placed on the bottom (inferior) part of the patella.
Like other tendon injuries we have discussed the best way to target this, for a chronic issue, is with slow heavy tensile load through the tendon. The reason behind this overuse injury must also be addressed such as decreased glute activation, knee mobility, hip mobility, etc. This can also be looked at and treated by a physical therapist.
If you’re still battling pain you can’t seem to shake and this problem is limiting you from doing the activities that you LOVE, give us a shout today at 561-899-8725 or email us directly at Team@AthleteRC.com we can directly diagnose what the problem is and how to solve it together for the long-term.
Imagine getting that pain fixed – allowing you to really get after your workouts and do the activities you LOVE most in life. We can help solve this problem for you.