Common causes and treatment of knee pain

knee pain causes treatment

Sore knee? How can you treat knee pain?

Knee pain that is caused by the mechanics of the foot can often be overlooked. If you are having an injury treated, your practitioner may focus so heavily on that particular body part that they forget about the nearby structures that are having a direct impact on the injury.

Knee pain can be categorised as acute (short term) injuries or chronic (long term) injuries. These chronic injuries are usually “overuse” injuries, whereby the knee joint is compromised by repetitive trauma. Knee pain can be caused by a variety of factors including bursitis, tendinitis, arthritis, tears in the ligaments, or menisci (osteoarthritis of the joint) or infection – and very commonly by condition known as runner’s knee

At Performance Podiatry we have had a notable influx of foot-related knee pain that is exacerbated by activity. It is often improved by rest and returns again once the activity has been resumed. Unless the root cause of the knee pain (poor alignment of the foot, ankle, knee, hips etc.) is addressed, the pain will continue to occur. Once the knee pain has been occurring consistently for a long period of time, it can be difficult to treat.

It has been proven that flat feet and feet with high arches have been associated with frequent knee pain, cartilage damage and osteoarthritis in older adults. The foot plays a crucial role in absorbing shock from ground contact. From here it moulds the alignment and joint movement of the knee.

What happens to the knee when the foot hits the ground?

This can be dependent on a number of factors, such as whether the foot is flexible or rigid in nature, whether the arches are high or flat, and which part of the foot is hitting the ground (the heel, mid-foot or forefoot). We will be focussing on the impact of high or flat foot arches on knee pain in this blog.

knee pain causes and treatments

Common causes of knee pain

Patella Femoral Syndrome
(patella-femoral syndrome, ‘runners knee’,  PFS)

PFS is related to poor tracking of the kneecap during walking and is characterised by pain at the front of the knee when walking up or down stairs and during prolonged periods of sitting, swelling and clicking within the knee. The complaint is a response to inflammation of the under surface of the knee cap and is usually caused by a combination of factors that all need to be addressed for full recovery.

One of these factors is an alignment problem within the knee, which stems from poor foot posture. As the foot moves on the ground it sets up a chain reaction in the body. If the foot is not aligned properly this can cause issues further up the limb, magnifying as the movement or rotation travels up to the knee.

Treatment for the condition may include anti-inflammatory advice, taping, stretching, strengthening, footwear advice, activity modification and treatment using orthotic therapy.

Correctly identifying your particular kind of knee pain is vital to effective treatment. We use a thorough biomechanical assessment to identify whether structural issues such as poor foot posture are the cause of your knee pain.

Knee Arthritis

As we get older we develop wear and tear arthritis within some joints. This can be worsened by previous injuries, some medical conditions, body weight and repetitive stress usually through work or sport. Medial (inside) knee joint arthritis affects a large proportion of the population over 45 years of age. Full length laterally wedged orthotics have been clinically proven to reduce medial knee joint pain. For some patients orthotics may be a substitute for or reduce the requirement for pain relief medication and surgery.

Osgood Schlatters Disease

This is a painful condition that affects the lower portion of the knee cap and occurs commonly in children between 9-16 years old. The child will have swelling in the area, and tenderness to touch. The disease is related to activity, growth spurts and age. The child will often be able to point to the exact site of pain on their leg. The condition can be acute or chronic in nature and require your Podiatrists use of radiology to diagnose and provide appropriate management.

Flat Feet

Flat feet have impacts on the joint between the thigh bone and shin bone and the joint between the thigh bone and knee bone. The reason for this is that when the foot flattens, the leg rotates inwards and puts excessive strain on the knee joints. Over time, this overloading may cause cartilage wear and osteoarthritis.

Feet with high arches

High arched feet have an entirely different mode of causing pain at the knee. These feet are relatively rigid (not flexible) and do little to absorb shock by flattening out the foot arch. Because these feet hit the ground so hard the shock is transferred up the leg and into the knee excessively. Often people with this type of foot will experience pain on the outside of the knee.

Knee pain treatments

Prevention is the best policy when it comes to our knees.

The first thing to do is to have a foot and leg assessment performed by a podiatrist or other health professional. They will assess for things like alignment, joint flexibility, muscle strength and flexibility. At Performance Podiatry we consider daily footwear, running shoes and other sporting shoes and their suitability for your feet. We also consider gym training or running technique and how this is impacting on your knees.

If the feet are considered to be flat we may recommend a strengthening program to help re-align the feet or legs. We may also recommend orthotics to help support the feet while they are becoming stronger, or to provide feedback to the brain about where the foot should be positioned.

If your feet are less flexible and have higher arches, we may recommend a mixture of joint mobilisations, stretches, soft orthotics with shock-absorbing qualities and shoes appropriate for your foot type.

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Make a podiatrist appointment for knee pain treatment.

Our highly qualified and experienced podiatrists are experts in biomechanics and it’s our philosophy that the finest foot care requires an entirely bespoke experience. That’s why we are dedicated to providing entirely tailor-made diagnosis and treatment services that are the best in Australia.

Our dynamic practice has a holistic approach to resolving foot complaints.

From assessment and diagnosis to extraordinary treatment, every step of your journey with us will deliver you the ultimate podiatric experience, resulting in healthier and happier feet.

Book a consultation with our podiatrists in Sydney (Macquarie St)Darlinghurst and Randwick to discuss your condition and we’ll get you pain-free and back to full function as smoothly and quickly as possible, so you can return to the activities and life you love.


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The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.