How Hip Weakness Can Be the Hidden Cause of Knee Pain

Dec 16, 2015

Kacie Lyding

by Kacie Lyding
PT, DPT, and SCS Downtown Phoenix Location

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a leading provider of physical therapy in Arizona, and serves patients who have a vast variety of injuries and complaints. Our commitment to hands-on, individualized therapy makes it possible for us to help you achieve your specific goals. To schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists, go online here today! For more information about physical therapy in Arizona, follow our blog.
Kacie Lyding, PT, DPT, and SCS, has played and coached sports at the collegiate level, and has experience working in a variety of PT settings. She is here today to explain knee pain, and how it might be coming from an unexpected source.
We’ve learned since childhood that all the bones in the body are connected, and research shows weakness in one area can lead to injury in another. Chronic knee pain is caused by a number of different issues, and at Foothills Sports Medicine we can help determine exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. Here’s some of what we know about knee pain, and how we can help.
Knee pain is one of the most common injuries, and is common across all ages. A study of over 2,000 runners showed that 17% of their injuries were related to knee pain. Insidious knee pain, meaning pain starting without an obvious reason, is more common in women (62% of cases) as compared to men (38% of cases). There have been several theories proposed as to why this is the case. One theory is that women have a deficit, or lack of, hip muscle strength. According to a systematic review by Prins et al, there is a strong correlation between patellofemoral (front of the knee) pain and hip weakness in external rotation, abduction, and extension.
In other words, because the knee bones are connected to the hip bones, knee pain is often related to hip weakness. When the hips are weak, the femur (thigh bone) is more internally rotated, meaning when you are standing straight, your knees tend to point inward, rather than straight ahead. This reduces the amount of contact between the thigh bone and the knee bone, which impacts the way the knee moves and can result in overuse injuries overtime. The femur relies on muscles at the hip and the knee to keep it stable during movement, and to control the motion of the hip and knee. Therefore, muscle weakness at the hip directly effects knee motion.
Given these complicated interactions in the body, how can Foothills Sports Medicine help? Our physical therapists are experts in biomechanics – the way the body moves. This means we can identify your injury and trace it back to its true source. We also address specific issues related directly to your knee pain and design an individualized exercise program to help you get better and return to your active lifestyle. Our specialized care enables you to develop new habits and reduce the likelihood of experiencing the same pain again in the future. We make sure you understand how to do exercises correctly and effectively, so you can continue to practice these exercises on your own at home after you complete therapy. Our priority is not only to help you get better, but to help you remain pain free far into the future.
Bolgla, L., Malone, T., Umberger, B., & Uhl, T. (n.d.). Hip Strength and Hip and Knee Kinematics During Stair Descent in Females With and Without Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 12-18.
Powers, C. (n.d.). The Influence of Abnormal Hip Mechanics on Knee Injury: A Biomechanical Perspective. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 42-51.
Prins, M., & Wurff, P. (n.d.). Females with patellofemoral pain syndrome have weak hip muscles: A systematic review. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 9-15.

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