Different Types of Hip and Knee Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Treat Them

Different Types of Hip and Knee Pain and How Physical Therapy Can Treat Them

Hip and knee pain can be so frustrating that it reduces the ability to perform everyday tasks or play sports with ease. Patients with severe pain in their hip or knee may even feel difficulty finding a comfortable sitting or sleeping position. When they fail to take proper care and treatment, the pain can worsen over the years.

The pain in the hip and knee can occur due to several causes, but all these causes respond well to physical therapy, which is the most effective natural treatment for pain management. Physical therapists can locate the primary source of pain and treat it with the appropriate modalities to promote hip and knee pain relief.

Why Does the Hip and Knee Hurt?

The hip and knees are some of the largest and most complex joints in the human body. The hip is the ball and socket joint that supports the weight of the upper body. It depends on various tissues and muscles to maintain stability and function properly. The knee is a hinge joint that is limited to forward and backward motions.

Both these joints endure most of the body’s weight, allowing complex movements when someone walks, jumps, runs, climbs, or carries a heavy load. They provide stability and mobility to the joints while performing such activities.

As these joints are overused, they may suffer injuries and disorders, sometimes leading to sharp pain, making it difficult to move throughout the day and to lie back down at night. Now, we are going to see the various causes that may lead to pain in the hip and the knee.

1) Osteoarthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the joints. Osteoarthritis is one of the significant causes of hip pain. It occurs when there is wear and tear in the cartilage tissue of the hip. It leads to stiffness and pain in the hip, making it difficult to stand for a long time. Mostly, women who are overweight, struggling with obesity, and older adults are at high risk of developing arthritis.

2) Bursitis

Bursitis is caused due to the inflammation in the fluid-filled sac called the bursa, which acts as a cushion and reduces friction between the moving tissues of the human body. Bursitis occurs in different parts of the body, including the elbow, shoulder, hips, and knees. Trochanteric bursitis is a common condition that occurs mainly in overweight women. It leads to pain and stiffness around the hip joint and along the side of the hip extending to the knee.

3) Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains may occur while performing any type of physical activity. A strain can occur when a muscle is stretched beyond its limits. It leads to weakness, pain, stiffness, and swelling. A sprain can occur when a ligament that acts as connective tissue between two bones is stretched beyond its limits, leading to pain, discomfort, swelling, and difficulty moving the affected joint.

4) Meniscus Tears

Meniscus tears are common knee injuries that cause specific tissue in the knee to tear due to a sudden injury or forceful twisting. The condition causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty to extend the knee. Athletes who play contact sports specifically are at risk of getting meniscus tears.

Physical Therapy Methods for Hip and Knee Pain Relief

Whatever the cause of hip and knee pain, physical therapy is the most effective treatment to cure them, reduce pain and aid in speedy recovery. Physical therapists are highly trained experts who evaluate the patients’ medical history and symptoms, providing them with the most individualized physical therapy treatment plan that helps in hip and knee pain relief.

1) RICE Method

RICE treatment, the abbreviation for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, is one of the best home remedies for promoting hip and knee pain relief. It helps to ease pain, reduce swelling, and speeds up the healing process.

When the hip and knee are experiencing a problem, they send pain signals that alert the body to REST the affected joints as much as possible by stopping those activities that might have led to the pain. If the patient fails to stop the activity, the injury may worsen, slowing the recovery process. It is essential to maintain an active lifestyle but stay away from activities that may increase hip and knee pain, with plenty of rest in between. 

Using ICE compresses the blood vessels and freezes the pain, thus reducing inflammation and promoting the recovery process. Applying an ice pack to the hip or knee four to five times a day for 20 minutes each time does well. Avoid using ice before performing exercises as it can stiffen the joint.

COMPRESSION is the process of applying light pressure to the affected joint. It can be done by using a compression bandage, like splints around the affected areas. Compression supports the joints, reduces inflammation, and promotes hip and knee pain relief.

ELEVATION is the process of lifting the injured area above the level of the heart to avoid blood pooling in the place, thus reducing pain, swelling, and throbbing. One can use a pillow to elevate the hip or leg to create an incline.

2) Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a hands-on technique used by physical therapists to induce relaxation and promote hip and knee pain relief. It involves different approaches like soft tissue mobilization, traction, trigger point therapy, and acupressure. Manual therapy can be combined with other physical therapy modalities like electrotherapy and therapeutic exercises to speed up the recovery process.

3) Therapeutic Exercises

Active and passive therapeutic exercises can strengthen the affected hip and knee joints, provide flexibility, restore function and alleviate pain. Physical therapists may recommend a wide range of physical activities, including stretching and strengthening exercises to integrate with the home exercise program.

4) Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy is a deep healing technique in which physical therapists apply sound waves to create vibration in the tissues. The vibration provides friction and increases heat in the affected area, thus starting the healing process. Ultrasound therapy increases blood flow, improves joint function, relieves stiffness, and aids in hip and knee pain relief.

5) Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is performed by using a low-level laser beam that is sent into the knee

to heal the damaged tissue. It is an effective treatment that improves circulation in the knee, treats inflammation, accelerates the healing process, and promotes tissue regrowth.

Final Thoughts

Physical therapy is a safe, non-invasive treatment, effective in pain management and promoting hip and knee pain relief. Physical therapists can find the underlying causes of the pain and assist the patients in strengthening their joints and improving their range of motion.

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