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Can aching pain from your knee to your ankle be improved with PT?

Radiating or aching pain from your knee to your ankle is a debilitating condition that can prevent you from doing the activities you love. Stress on the tibia from injury or overuse is one of the most common reasons for this kind of pain, which affects 35% of the athletic population

Whether your pain is from a sports injury or something else, there are ways to treat it. Let’s take a look at the causes of pain from your knee to your ankle, what the symptoms of that look like, and how physical therapy can bring you relief.

Symptoms and causes of pain from knee to ankle

While pain from your knee to your ankle is a more general symptom, there are several specific types of pain you can experience. Here’s a list of some of the common symptoms of pain that goes from your knee to your ankle.

  • Radiating pain.
  • Achiness.
  • Stiffness.
  • Sharp pain.
  • Favoring your leg.
  • Avoiding activities.

There are a number of issues that can cause knee-to-ankle pain. To know how best to treat your knee and ankle pain, your physical therapist will need to determine the reason behind your pain. Here’s a list of some common causes for this specific issue:

  • Joint damage — If you’ve injured either your ankle or your knee, your body may be trying to compensate by relying more heavily on the uninjured parts of your leg. However, this increased usage can cause more pain and damage in the long run, creating muscle strain, ligament tears or inflammation from your knee to your ankle.
  • Arthritis — Joint inflammation from arthritis or other inflammatory diseases can cause pain in both the ankle and the knee. If both of these joints flare up at the same time, it may feel like this pain is connected. If you ignore that pain, it may make the overall inflammation worse.
  • Shin splints — The term “shin splint” refers to pain felt anywhere along the shinbone from your knee to your ankle. It’s caused by an excessive amount of strain in or along the tibia. People who play sports that involve a lot of running are particularly prone to shin splints.
  • Overuse — Not all pain comes from a severe injury or disease. Straining your muscles and joints over a long period of time can also cause gradual wear and tear. This damage can eventually cause pain and decreased mobility in the affected parts of your body.
  • Tendinitis — Peroneal tendons run from the upper leg down to the knee, ankle and foot. If these tendons become irritated or inflamed, they can cause pain down the length of your entire leg. This level of inflammation often occurs due to overuse or injury.
  • Bone fracture — Your shinbone connects your ankle and your knee to each other. If this bone gets fractured or broken, it can cause significant pain that radiates down the length of the bone from the knee to the ankle.

While there are other causes of knee-to-ankle pain, these are some of the most likely reasons for it. This list may help you and your physical therapist determine the root of your pain. Once you know what’s been causing your knee and ankle pain, you’ll be in a better position to discover the best treatment method.

How physical therapy can address pain from the knee to the ankle

Whether your aching pain from knee to ankle is caused by injury, disease or overuse, physical therapy is an integral part of getting you back on your feet. The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen and mobilize the injured area to both address your current pain and prevent future pain. Here are a few of the results physical therapy can help you achieve:

  • Decreased pain — Your physical therapist will evaluate the severity of your condition and guide you through exercises designed to fit your needs. This can help you heal your ankle and knee without aggravating your injury or causing additional pain.
  • Improved muscle strength — After an injury, your muscles tend to weaken from disuse. Physical therapy can help you regain strength in your muscles, which will protect your joints, tendons and other tissue. The stronger your muscles are, the less likely you’ll be to re-injure yourself.
  • Protection of tendons, ligaments and joints — Physical therapy exercises can do more than just strengthen muscles. These exercises also strengthen and protect tendons, ligaments and joints that may be prone to further injury. A specialized regimen of exercises can improve support to the injured tissue and even correct imbalances that may be causing pain between your knee and ankle.
  • Increased flexibility — When you have an injury, you tend to move that area less to protect it. But this can decrease your flexibility and make your joints and muscles stiffer and less responsive. Physical therapy exercises help stretch your muscles and joints, which can increase your flexibility and improve your overall range of motion.
  • Better quality of life — The goal of physical therapy is to increase your mobility and help you get back to your normal level of strength and independence. When you aren’t restricted by pain between your knee and ankle, you can accomplish so much more.

The sooner you address your pain, the sooner you’ll be able to start working toward the mobility you want to achieve. You deserve to live a pain-free, active life. You just have to be willing to take that first step.

Physical therapy methods to decrease pain from the knee to the ankle 

There are a number of physical therapy methods your Back in Motion Physical Therapy physical therapist may choose to add to your treatment plan. It will depend on how severe your condition is and what may work best for you. Here are a few physical therapy treatments your physical therapist may choose to use:

  • Manual therapy — In manual therapy, your physical therapist will use their hands to move and stretch your injury. The goal of this treatment is to improve your range of motion and decrease pain in and around the injured area. Manual therapy can also increase circulation, triggering natural healing processes in the injured tissue.
  • Soft tissue mobilization — This treatment is a specialized form of manual therapy that can offer hands-on relief for your knee-to-ankle pain. By manipulating the soft tissue around your knee and ankle, your physical therapist will try to alleviate tension that can be causing your discomfort and pain. 
  • Range-of-motion exercises — When your knee and ankle are injured, they often stiffen up, reducing your range of motion. If you improve your flexibility, you can ease that stiffness and discomfort. Your physical therapist may guide you through specific exercises designed to break down scar tissue, reduce stiffness and improve your range of motion.
  • Strengthening exercises — Building strength in your knee, calf and ankle helps stabilize your joints and can alleviate pain. Strengthening exercises are important to help you improve your day-to-day abilities and prevent your injuries from recurring. Your physical therapist will assess what exercises will best fit your needs.
  • Electrical stimulation — Electrical stimulation therapy is conducted via transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS stimulates the muscles and nerves, which can provide rapid pain relief. It can also stimulate healing, which may assist in a faster recovery.

These are just a few of the ways physical therapy can help you address pain from the knee to the ankle. Your physical therapist will develop a plan uniquely suited to your needs to help you on your journey to recovery.

You don’t have to live with debilitating pain from your knee to your ankle that inhibits your day-to-day life. Our physical therapy team can help you deal with your symptoms and work toward long-lasting relief. When you’re ready to address your aching pain from knee to ankle, call us or request an appointment today.

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