Causes of knee pain can range from an injury to a mechanical issue and can be acute or chronic. A number of treatments exist, often in combination with a personalized physical therapy regimen. Before seeking a diagnosis, having a basic understanding of the anatomy of the knee and the type of pain you are experiencing can help you determine when it is time to see a specialist—and what questions to ask once you’re in the office.
The knee is essentially a hinge joint that connects the shin (tibia), thigh (femur) and kneecap (patella). The femur and the tibia are connected by four main ligaments—the lateral collateral (LCL), posterior cruciate (PCL), anterior cruciate (ACL) and medial collateral (MCL). Two pieces of cartilage—the medial and lateral meniscus—provide joint stability and lubrication, acting as shock absorbers to prevent stress injuries during physical activity, such as walking or running.
Some of the most common knee injuries we see happen in combination, as illustrated in the video above. The ACL, which is meant to provide rotational stability and prevent hyperextension of the knee, can tear, often damaging the menisci, cartilage, or other structures of the knee along with it. As with most knee injuries, a torn ACL is often not the result of a direct blow, but of a hard landing, awkward movement or, in the case of Vida patient Matt Clegg, rapid deceleration down an icy avalanche shoot on Mount Eleanor.
Whether your knee pain is caused by an acute injury like a torn ACL or a more persistent mechanical problem like IT Band Syndrome, the key to relief and recovery is a proper diagnosis followed by a treatment plan that fits your injury, body, and lifestyle. Because the structure of the knee is so complex, identifying the cause of your knee pain out of the broad list of possible conditions requires the expertise of a trained healthcare professional.
A member of Vida’s multidisciplinary team of doctors and specialists will consult with you to fully understand your medical history, when your pain started, and how exactly the injury occurred. From there, we will recommend a personalized treatment plan, which will likely include a targeted physical therapy regimen to promote increased strength and mobility, while preventing re-injury.
Learn how Vida patient Matt Clegg went from a severed ACL, along with a damaged MCL and meniscus, to walking along the beach on the Oregon Coast without a leg brace—just eight weeks into recovery. See Matt’s story in the video above.