Knee Pain – Do My Feet Have Anything To Do With It?

The cause of knee pain can be complex and multifactorial. This can range from acute injuries from a specific traumatic incident to overuse injuries or structural/muscular imbalances that can result in ongoing issues. 

Some of the many conditions responsible for knee pain include:

  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome or Runner’s knee
  • Patellar tendinopathy or Jumper’s knee 
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Knee osteoarthritis 
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease (Irritation to the growth plate of the tibial tuberosity) 

Depending on the diagnosis and underlying cause of the condition, knee pain can be treated with multiple modalities, including rehabilitative exercises, knee braces or taping, pain management with medications or injections, footwear changes and orthoses.

So, how do my feet affect my knee pain?

Our feet act like the foundations of our entire body, and it is no wonder that poor foot posture can be translated upwards to the rest of our body. Imagine if a building was built on an uneven foundation or is tilted on a slope – the furniture would not be very stable and things might end up falling over. Similarly, poor foot posture can result in misalignment and affect our stability when we walk or run, which can place more strain on certain structures of the knee.

Flat feet (Pes planus)

Excessively flat feet can result in the feet ‘rolling in’ or overpronating when walking, which can translate up to the knee and result in excessive strain in the inner part (medial) of the knee. Often, individuals tend to have knock knees (genu valgum) alongside this. This often can increase the risk of developing conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome or medial knee osteoarthritis. 

High arch feet (Pes cavus)

A high-arched foot results in excessively ‘rolling outward’ or over-supinating when walking or running and results in a more rigid foot with reduced shock absorption to the patellofemoral joint of the knee and can contribute to the progression of lateral knee osteoarthritis.

How can we address these foot issues that may be contributing to my knee pain?

Orthoses can aid with reducing pressure on the knee joint by placing the foot posture in a better alignment, thereby allowing the knee to be in a better position when walking, running or jumping. Supporting the arches of the feet can reduce internal rotation but muscular weakness or imbalances can result in misalignment of the kneecap (patella) during movement.

Footwear is also important in cushioning the impact to our knee joints when walking and running. There are specific footwear options that can help or aggravate the issues, depending on the activities we are doing. 

If you think that poor foot posture and abnormal biomechanics might be contributing to your knee concerns, you can book in with one of our podiatrists at SWFAC for an assessment of your biomechanics where we can provide footwear advice and determine if orthoses might be beneficial in treating your knee condition. 

To book a lower limb assessment to see if your feet are causing your knee pain, please contact Southwest Foot and Ankle Centre today on (08) 9791 1319 or by booking an appointment online!

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