Lansdowne Medical Pavilion
19415 Deerfield Ave, Suite 213
Lansdowne, Virginia 20176
Did you know that women are more likely to develop knee injuries than men? The knee is a complex active weight bearing joint. Factors such as a woman's wider pelvis, fluctuations in estrogen, and using leg muscles differently than men can affect a women's knee.
Women have a wider pelvis in order to support pregnancy and childbirth which causes the femur (the large bone of the thigh) to reach the knee at a larger angle. This increases pressure on the knee joint. To help protect the knee, women can strengthen the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, which are two large muscles of the thigh. Additionally strengthening the gluteus medius and piriformis, which are muscles of the hip, can help to guide the femur to a more neutral position. As always, maintaining a healthy weight and wearing supportive shoes is very important.
Patellofemoral syndrome occurs when the patella (the kneecap) is slightly out of alignment with the femur (the thigh bone) and rubs against the bone and cartilage. This causes inflammation and tenderness of the patellar tendon. Repetitive motions, such as running up and down hills, can increase this condition. It is best to avoid doing the same activities/exercises on a daily basis. Strengthening the quadracepts muscle and stretching the hamstring and IT band well can help to keep normal alignment.
Meniscal tears occur when the meniscal cartilage, which acts as a cushion, breaks down or tears. This can cause irritation, swelling, and pain. Icing the knee and taking anti-inflammatories can help to manage the swelling. If pain persists, it is best to see a medical provider.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that occurs over time as the protective cartilage in joints begins to wear down and increase friction on the bone. Previous knee injuries, genetics, and being overweight can also affect a person's likelihood of developing osteoarthritis.
Other acute injuries include torn ligaments (ACL, MCL, PCL, and LCL), muscle injuries, fractures, gout, and acute infections. Please see a medical provider if your knee has an obvious deformity, you cannot bear weight on your knee, you heard a loud pop at the time of injury, or you have a fever in conjunction with a red or swollen knee. Your medical provider will take your medical history, do a physical exam, and may take X-rays, CT, or MRI to determine the cause and appropriate treatment of your condition.
Balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance are crucial to maintaining healthy joints. It is important to warm up and stretch before and after exercise. Strengthening muscles helps to stabilize the joints. Increasing your exercise regiment slowly and listening to your body help to decrease the risk of joint injury. Wearing supportive and appropriate footwear is important for anyone. It is crucial for people with flat feet or high arches or people that overpronate (roll their ankle inward) or supinate (roll their ankle outward). If you are unsure you can look at the bottom of your shoes. If one area is wearing more than other areas than you are putting more pressure on that part of your foot. To counteract this you can go to a running store where they fit you with shoes designed for your movement in addition to considering the use of shoe inserts with appropriate arch support. Maintaining a healthy weight significantly reduces the pressure on the knee. Even a 5 pound weight loss can make a big difference. As always, if you are unsure or need more guidance, please make an appointment to speak with your medical provider.