Knee Pain and Physical Therapy

Why is knee pain so common and what can be done about it?

The knee joint appears simple.  The thigh bone connects to the shin bone and hinges into flexion and extension.  For something that seems simple,  the knee often develops problems. The focus of this page is to explore the seemingly simple knee, the injuries that happen, and methods to make it better.

When I decided to make this for my clients, I realized that it could be helpful for people that cannot make it into the clinic. I also knew that my ideas on this problem will be revised, updated, and modified.  I wanted to capture all of that information in one spot.  

If you feel stuck because of your knee, I hope this ‘unsticks’ you.  If you feel hopeless, I think this will help you get going again.  

Knee pain with movement

There are recurring movements that people describe as painful.  


The load to the knee joint with walking is significantly more than you think.  The knee joint goes into full knee extension at least two times. This does not happen with running and sometimes means that people can run without knee pain but have issues with walking. 


Running leads to much larger forces than walking.  It is more complicated than the often repeated statement that you have glute weakness.  A running analysis must look at more than just the form or glute strength.  There can be variety of issues ranging from strength, motor control to sensory issues.  Each of these can lead to pain.  You can see a brief review of differentials for running downhill.

Sitting for a long period of time

Going up or down steps

I have knee pain when I go down the steps

Changes in the knee

Another way to describe issues with the knee are visible and physical changes that occur.

Lost a lot of knee motion – mostly when I try to extend my knee

Lost a lot of knee motion – mostly when I try to bring my knee to my butt

Lost a lot of knee motion, knee is swollen, hurts a lot, and just happened

Lost a lot of knee motion, knee is swollen, hurts a lot, and it has been around a long time

Quad muscle is gone

Quad muscles always feels tight


Surgery and Injections for the knee

Often Smith Performance Center is the last conservative stop before people do surgery.  Surgery is sometimes the best option.  Unfortunately, there are many times when the conservative care was terrible and surgery could have been avoided.  Here are common procedures:

Total Knee Replacement


Knee Injections


Common pathologies for the knee

The following are the most common pathologies seen by our physical therapists:

Patellar tendinopathy 


Knee Osteoarthritis

Traumatic Arthritis

Post Surgical Issues

Research on Knee Pain and Physical Therapy

How can it help you?

The amount of research on the knee is staggering.  If you go to pubmed and type in “knee pain” you get thousands of results (see below).



If you look closely at the side, it shows a report of the number of articles on knee pain by year.


As you can see, the number of articles is increasing every year.  And this is just for a generic search on the topic of knee pain.  There are more articles on knee osteoarthritis and knee injury. The purpose of this page is to give you an idea of what impacts our thought process as practitioners.  In the last decade, a large emphasis has been placed on evidence based medicine. This is a difficult, somewhat nebulous idea. There is too much information to consume even if we did not have a responsibility to see patients.

However, we obviously use research to support and improve our practice.  All research is not created equal and most is not directly applicable to practice.  Instead of regurgitating the findings of articles, we will share how we take in information and use it in our practice – our takeaways. If you have questions about our thought process – please reach out.

If you are interested in original articles and research along with our analysis and the takeaways from our practice, click below:

How can Smith Performance Center help with my knee issues?

If you need more information on how we start to address the different needs of individuals with knee pain, check out the link below:


1684 S Research Loop
Suite 508 and 518
Tucson, AZ 85710