Road Today - - Guest Column: Health -

At first glance, truck driv­ing may not seem like a pro­fes­sion that would be prone to knee in­juries. How­ever, due to the phys­i­cal de­mands of their job, many drivers de­velop painful and some­times de­bil­i­tat­ing knee con­di­tions.

A com­mon knee in­jury sus­tained by drivers is called patel­lar ten­donitis, which is bet­ter known as jumper’s knee. This is a con­di­tion that af­fects the ten­don that con­nects your knee cap to your shin bone. The patella ten­don func­tions to help your mus­cles straighten your knee like when you are walk­ing up or down stairs or kick­ing a soc­cer ball.

Patel­lar ten­donitis is caused by re­peated stress and strain on the ten­don. Even­tu­ally the stress leads to small tears in the ten­don it­self. As more and more tears oc­cur, in­flam­ma­tion and pain in the ten­don start to ap­pear. For truck drivers, the most com­mon causes of this in­jury are climb­ing in and out of trucks, jump­ing off trail­ers and long hours op­er­at­ing the clutch and gas ped­als. Other risk fac­tors that may af­fect drivers in­clude tight leg mus­cles, mus­cu­lar im­bal­ances and ac­cess weight.

The first symp­tom of patel­lar ten­donitis is usu­ally pain just un­der the knee cap. Ini­tially, the pain will only be present dur­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. The pain is usu­ally sharp in na­ture but dis­ap­pears once the ac­tiv­ity is stopped. As the con­di­tion wors­ens, the pain may be­come con­stant.

In most cases, the di­ag­no­sis of patel­lar ten­donitis is de­ter­mined based on the pa­tient’s signs and symp­toms as well as a phys­i­cal exam. How­ever, if it is still un­clear, di­ag­nos­tic test­ing such as x-rays ul­tra­sound, and MRI may be nec­es­sary. It is im­por­tant for your doc­tor to rule out other more se­ri­ous knee con­di­tions.

Once a di­ag­no­sis of patel­lar ten­donitis is reached, your doc­tor will dis­cuss pos­si­ble treat­ment op­tions. The good news is that most peo­ple re­spond very fa­vor­ably to con­ser­va­tive treat­ment and surgery is not usu­ally re­quired. The first mode of treat­ment is to rest and re­duc­ing the amount of strain on the knee. Next, ice and anti-in­flam­ma­tory med­i­ca­tions are used to re­duce the swelling in the ten­don. Mas­sage and gen­tle stretch­ing are also ef­fec­tive to re­duce the pain and ir­ri­ta­tion. Fi­nally, in the later stages of treat­ment your doc­tor may rec­om­mend strength­en­ing ex­er­cises and body me­chanic mod­i­fi­ca­tion all of which an agron­o­mist, phys­i­cal ther­a­pist or chi­ro­prac­tor can help you with. If all else fails and no sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment is ob­served af­ter 10 to 12 months of con­ser­va­tive treat­ment, surgery may be con­sid­ered. The goal of surgery is to re­pair any tears or re­move se­verely dam­aged sec­tions of the ten­don.

Al­though you can not com­pletely pre­vent this con­di­tion, you can re­duce your risk of de­vel­op­ing it. For starters, avoid ac­tiv­i­ties that may put ac­cess strain on the patel­lar ten­don such as jump­ing off of your trailer. In ad­di­tion, try to use proper me­chan­ics when get­ting in and out of your cab i.e. “Three point tech­nique.” Lastly, try to main­tain a healthy body weight and per­form lower body stretches reg­u­larly.

As you can see, patel­lar ten­donitis is not a life threat­en­ing in­jury, how­ever, if left un­treated, it could de­velop into a very painful and de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion. Just try to keep some of th­ese sim­ple hints in mind and you will be well on your way to hav­ing pain free knees.

Un­til next time, drive safely!

Dr Christo­pher H. Singh Chi­ro­prac­tor, runs Trans Canada Chi­ro­prac­tic at 230 Truck Stop in Wood­stock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024 E.mail: chris_s­[email protected]­pa­

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