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Putting A Cap On Painful Knees

What Is The Knee?

The knee is the meeting place of two important bones, the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). The patella (kneecap) is made of bone and sits in front of the knee. This unique weight-bearing joint is wrapped by ligaments, muscles and tendons. The smooth, shiny and slippery covering material that envelopes the ends of the femur, top of the tibia and back of the patella is called articular cartilage. The cartilage's rubbery consistency allows the three surfaces to slide against one another without damage to each other. The function of articular cartilage is to absorb shock and provide an extremely smooth surface to facilitate motion.

What Is Kneecap Pain?

Known as patello-femoral syndrome, it is pain felt especially when sitting and climbing stairs. Commonly, the pain occurs when the articular cartilage of the kneecap gets damaged and/or the kneecap suffers from wear and tear. Articular cartilage damage occurs when the kneecap get pulled to one side. This, called patella tilt, normally happens due to an imbalance between the big muscle groups in the upper leg (quadriceps). Apart from the quadriceps, an imbalance of the hip muscles, calf muscles and hamstrings can also contribute to the patella shift. Other than muscle imbalance, biomechanical factors such as flat foot or a high arched foot, or even a high riding patella tilt which eventually contributes to the damage of the articular cartilage.

How Do I Know I Have Patello-Femoral Syndrome?

Pain. Even though you feel a vague pain behind the kneecap, more acute pain is felt along the inner edge of the kneecap. Most often the pain is felt during activities that require the knee to be bent and the forceful contraction of the quadriceps muscles, for example, doing squats, ascending or descending stairs, playing sports like volleyball, basketball, tennis and running. Even sitting with the knee bent for a long period of time, such as while watching a movie, can lead to pain. In face, patients with this condition often may prefer to sit in an aisle seat where they can keep the injured leg straight.

How Can It Be Treated?

The conventional treatment is with anti-inflammatory medication, icing, heat and quadriceps-strengthening exercises. The knee can also be taped to reduce the friction on the kneecap. The American College of Rheumatology recommends knee taping for patients with kneecap pain and osteoarthritic knees When performed correctly and with exercise, taping offers effective pain relief.

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