Knee pain is a huge complaint among runners, athletes, and just generally active people. The knee joint does a lot of work and can take a huge beating during an active adult's life. One of the biggest issues that cause knee pain has to do with the knee cap. This joint pain usually occurs where the knee cap and thighbone meet. There are many treatments for knee cap pain that do not involve surgery available, including strapping or taping, exercise, orthotic shoe inserts, injections, acupuncture, medications, heat/cold compression, laser, and an assortment of braces.
The are many kinds of exercises that can be used. Stretching, strengthening, closed kinetic chain (foot on ground), open kinetic chain (foot not on the ground), and isometric strengthening, There are also exercises that involve the hip and pelvis, that focus on the muscles of the quadriceps, vastus medilais oblique muscles, straight leg raises, and short arc knee extension exercises. Research has been done showing promising evidence that correcting a runners form can help pain in the knee cap. Most of the current therapies that do not involve surgery have not been well proven in research studies. These studies simply do not have the evidence and positive clinical effects. Experts had published reviews that criticize the current research that is available and have come to the conclusion that no one treatment has been proven to be more helpful than any other in helping the pain caused by the knee cap.
If you are feeling knee pain that is around the kneecap, and you are not having luck with any of the treatments, it may mean that either the treatments you have tried are faulty, that your diagnosis could be wrong, or both. It is not very precise to put all the problems you may have with your kneecap into one simple diagnoses or category. There could be sub-groups of other issues with the patella femoral joint. If you are able to obtain a more specific diagnosis, that has more criteria, a better focused and specific treatment can be found. The more detailed the diagnosis and treatment, the more effective pain relief you will find.
Diagnosing knee cap pain classifications is something that many researchers are just starting to explore. It has been suggested that there are eight major sub-groups of problems relating to the knee cap. There are problems with compression, instability, direct trauma, bio-mechanical dysfunction, injuries from overuse, soft tissue lesions, neurological issues, and bone disease. There have also been different treatments identified for each sub-group. Of course, more research is needed to add validity to the groupings.
While the researchers continue to work on the sub-groups and their possible treatments, there are still many individuals that are in need of pain relief from kneecap problems. Generally the current guidelines call for a treatment to be chosen that is based on careful observation in a clinic setting to identify the specific problem. If your doctor gives you a specific treatment to help with the pain from your knee cap, you may want to inquire how they decided on that treatment. They should be able to explain to you what specific signs they observed leading them to choose your treatment.
If you are only experiencing knee pain on one side you are going to be able to easily tell the difference between the injured knee and regular knee. On the injured side you will be able to feel and/or see a muscle that is softer and/or smaller if strengthening exercises is the treatment being used. On the injured knee you are going to be able to feel and/or see the muscle is shorter if the treatment chosen is stretching exercises. When the orthotic shoe insert treatment is chosen you are going to be able to see evidence of prolonged or excessive pronation happening around the foot. When the shoe inserts are used, you are going to notice that when the excessive pronation around the foot is alleviated, the knee movement becomes better.
Strapping or taping treatments are used when you can see or feel that the kneecap is not in alignment. You will easily be able to tell that kneecap is not stable when this treatment is used. When ice is used in treatment it is because there have been changes in skin temperature or color and swelling observed. Until there is more definitive results given from research regarding treatments that do not involve surgery, for knee pain that involves the knee cap, the treatment that is chosen needs to be based on experienced, professional observation in a clinical setting.