Dull, aching knees is a common complaint from sports enthusiasts to young moms to seniors alike. When knee pain strikes, many people are quick to look for a cause and a cure but often they look in the wrong place.
People automatically assume when their knees hurt, the cause of the problem must be within their knee, but often it is not the case. There are many different causes of knee pain, and one of the most common is what people least expect – their feet.
When I see a patient for the first time I, like all Pedorthists, do a full lower limb examination, including a gait assessment because the way a person walks has a huge impact on the health of their knees. If their feet roll inwards too far or tip outwards it will cause the lower leg to move in such a way that it places extra pressure on their knee each time they take a step. If the ankle does not have as much range of motion as it should, it can have an effect on the knees as well. Differing leg lengths, a common problem affecting many Canadians, can also lead to knee pain as the discrepancy can create stress on the knee joints.
In addition to biomechanical problems, ill-fitting, unsupportive shoes are another common cause of knee pain, particularly if they are worn repeatedly or for strenuous activity. I always look closely at a patient’s shoes and counsel them on what features to look for in their footwear. I explain how important it is for them to wear well-fitting, activity-appropriate footwear in good condition for all  sports and that flimsy, fashionable shoes should only be worn on occasion, and definitely when no lengthy walking or standing is planned. A patient’s shoes speak volumes about their current condition and what conditions they may develop if they don’t change their footwear.
Aching behind, below or on the sides of the kneecap is painful, frustrating and very common. But some types of knee pain are easily treated and can be prevented, particularly when it stems from the feet. If you are suffering from knee pain book an appointment with your family doctor and ask if a referral to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist will help. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that a foot orthotic or a change in footwear is all that is needed to restore your mobility and reduce your pain.
By Alison Smith, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C), Moncton, NB