Knee or hip pain is a common complaint among individuals of all ages and genders. There are many causes for hip and knee pain. Some of these issues such as osteoarthritis, hip impingement syndrome, patellofemoral (kneecap) pain syndrome, bursitis, and tendinopathies can be due to overuse. In addition, there are always sources of pain that can be due to trauma, such as muscle strains/tears and fractures.
Many of these painful diagnoses can be traced back to less than optimal movement patterns which are due to weakness in the hips and leg muscles. Over time, these movements can irritate or cause the breakdown of muscles and joints. Suboptimal movement patterns can also predispose individuals to traumatic injury. These movement patterns occur countless times a day, whether we realize it or not. Squatting down to pick up your child, or climbing stairs to get to the laundry are some examples of motions that, if done repeatedly with poor form, can be a cause of pain.
The motion at the hip and knee are closely related. The knee joint moves very well in bending straight and extending. However, people do not move in one straight plane at all times. Whenever people turn, pivot, cut, or simply stand on one leg, there is an element of imbalance for which our muscles must account. A lot of that control actually comes from the hip. Picture trying to squat to the floor to pick up a quarter you dropped. Try doing it with your toes pointed away from each other like a ballerina. Then, try performing the same task with your toes pointed towards each other. The motions and stresses put on your body are vastly different, and all you did was rotate your hips a few degrees.
Now imagine having to perform that squat with your toes pointed towards each other 500 times. While this is an extreme example, it can help to illustrate how an abnormal movement over time can cause pain. At Excel, we have skilled therapists who can help to identify abnormal movements and find their source. Whether there is a strength, mobility, stability deficit, or some combination of each, physical therapy has been shown to reduce hip and knee pain for various diagnoses.
Research has shown that for individuals that have patellar (kneecap) pain, there is a significant improvement in symptoms when hip exercises are performed regularly compared to just quad strengthening (Bloomer & Durall, 2015). In addition to helping knee pain, general strengthening is shown to decrease pain associated with hip osteoarthritis. The benefits of exercise were such that those who were expecting to require a hip replacement were able to wait for 40% longer with the same quality of life before having their hip replaced (Svege, et al. 2013).
Regular exercise and strengthening of the hip musculature is an effective way to decrease pain and avoid repetitive stresses that can lead to further injury in both the hip and knee joints. If you are currently experiencing mild hip or knee pain, it is a good idea to see one of the skilled therapists at Excel to get a comprehensive evaluation to better understand your pain.
Bloomer BA, Durall CJ. Does the Addition of Hip Strengthening to a Knee-Focused Exercise Program Improve Outcomes in PatientswithPatellofemoralPainSyndrome?JournalofSportRehabilitation.2015;24(4):42833.doi:10.1123/jsr.2014-0184.
Svege I, Nordsletten L, Fernandes L, Risberg MA. Exercise therapy may postpone total hip replacement surgery in patients with hip osteoarthritis: a long-term follow-up of a randomized trial. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013;74(1):164-169. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203628.
Learn more in our July 2019 Newsletter about how to relieve hip and knee pain!