The Peak Performance Blog features articles put together by our therapists. Here you can learn more in depth about causes of pain, different injuries, the anatomy behind them, and ways Peak Performance Physical Therapy can help you get back to your peak performance!
Two structures called menisci sit between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone). These structures are sometimes referred to as the cartilage of the knee, but the menisci differ from the articular cartilage that covers the surface of the joint. (Menisci is plural for meniscus.)
The menisci enhance the stability of the knee and protect the articular cartilage from excessive concentration of force. They act like a gasket, helping spread out the forces that are transmitted across the joint. Walking puts up to two times your body weight on the joint. Running puts about eight times your body weight on the knee. Without the menisci, the concentration of force into a small area on the articular cartilage can damage the surface, leading to degeneration over time.
In addition to protecting the articular cartilage, the menisci help the ligaments with stability of the knee. The menisci make the knee joint more stable by acting like a wedge set against the bottom of a car tire.
The meniscus is a commonly injured structure in the knee. The injury can occur in any age group. In younger people, the meniscus is fairly tough and rubbery, and tears usually occur as a result of a forceful twisting injury. The meniscus grows weaker with age, and meniscal tears can occur in aging adults as the result of fairly minor injuries, even from the up-and-down motion of squatting. Without the menisci, the forces on the knee joint are concentrated onto a small area, leading to damage and degeneration of the articular cartilage, a condition called osteoarthritis.
Articular Cartilage is a smooth, slippery material that covers the ends of the bones that make up the knee joint that allows the surfaces to slide against one another without damage to either surface. This material is about one-quarter of an inch thick in most large joints.
The function of articular cartilage is to absorb shock and provide an extremely smooth surface to facilitate motion. We have articular cartilage essentially everywhere that two bony surfaces move against one another. In the knee, articular cartilage covers the ends of the femur, the top of the tibia, and the back of the patella.
The main problem with articular cartilage occurs with degeneration called osteoarthritis (OA) or arthritis. OA simply is the wearing away of the articular cartilage exposing the sensitive bone underneath. This can be caused by a knee injury earlier in life. It can also come from years of repeated strain on the knee. Not all cases of knee OA are related to a prior injury. Scientists believe genetics makes some people prone to developing degenerative arthritis. Obesity is linked to knee OA. Losing only 10 pounds can reduce the risk of future knee OA by 50 percent.
People who modify their activities can actually slow down the effects of knee OA. For instance, people who normally jog might decide to walk, bike, or swim to reduce impact on their knee joint. Sports that require jumping and quick starts and stops may need to be altered or discontinued to protect the knee joint. The use of trekking pole(s) during walking or hiking may also help reduce symptoms of OA.
Range-of-motion and stretching exercises will be used to improve knee motion. You will be shown strengthening exercises for the hip and knee to help steady the knee and give additional joint protection from shock and stress. People with knee OA who have strong leg muscles have fewer symptoms and prolong the life of their knee joint. Peak Performance can suggest tips for getting your tasks done with less strain on the joint.
Some of your favorite summertime activities might be contributing to your shoulder pain, such as fly fishing, golf, throwing, painting, and tree trimming. A common form of shoulder pain is impingement syndrome which could cause tendonitis of rotator cuff muscle tendons and/or bursitis. In addition, some common strengthening exercises can also put your shoulders at additional risk of impingement. These exercises include bench press, overhead military press and triceps dips.
Impingement syndrome causes generalized shoulder aches in the early stages. It also causes pain when raising the arm out to the side or in front of the body. Most patients will also complain that the pain makes it difficult for them to sleep, especially when they roll onto the affected shoulder.
A reliable sign of impingement syndrome is a sharp pain when you try to reach into your back pocket or across your body. As the condition worsens, the discomfort increases and it becomes more difficult to move the arm. Sometimes pain on the outside of your arm or a catching/clicking sensation is felt when using your arm.
Physical therapy can be very helpful in alleviating shoulder impingement pain. Your physical therapist will use various treatments to calm inflammation, stretching to help restore full shoulder range of motion and exercises to improve strength and coordination in the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles.
Contact Peak Performance Physical Therapy and let one of our skilled physical therapists help you enjoy your summer plans!