Gas Pedal Knee
The motion (foot on pedal) is repetitive, especially when traffic is heavy. Because of the repeated rotation of the lateral tibia of the leg when stepping on the gas pedal, injury and damageare inflicted to the right knee’s cartilage and muscles. This condition named Gas Pedal Knee and this is the first cause of Knee Pain from driiving.
Symptoms of Gas Pedal Knee Pain
- Knee asymmetrical pain (one knee only, usually the right knee)
- Limping (in severe cases)
- Right foot pointing outward when the person is in a standing position
- Stiffness of the right foot
- Increased pain in the right knee when running and walking
Causes of Knee Pain
Other causes of knee pain can include:
- Knee ligament sprains
- Knee cartilage injuries (meniscal tears)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Knee pain can also be caused by hip problems
Chondromalacia Patellae or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
This condition is characterized by the injury or damage of the protective sheath of the cartilage below the kneecaps. The kneecaps or patella are injured or damaged because of increased pressure; improper alignment of patella, or knees, or other leg parts. This injury can cause knee pain while driving, while going up and down the stairs, or when running, kneeling or squatting, or in any activity that involves the knees.
Symptom of Knee Pain
- The pain comes and goes.
- The pain may be brought on by sitting still for long periods. For example, after going to the cinema or for a long drive, when it will be worse when starting to move about again.
- There may be a grating or grinding feeling or a noise when the knee bends and straightens. This is called crepitus.
- Sometimes there is puffiness or swelling around the kneecap.
- Pain around the knee. The pain is felt at the front of the knee, around or behind the kneecap (patella).
- Both knees are often affected at the same time but one is usually worse than the other.
- The pain is typically worse when going up or, in particular, going down stairs.
- Running, especially downhill, squatting and certain sports can all set it off – anything that leads to the patella being compressed against the lower part of the thighbone.
How to Avoid Knee Pain from Driving
Knee pain can have all sorts of underlying causes and driving a manual transmission may just be a small part of the problem. Having good posture is always a great start to fixing pain in your body. how to prevent knee pain while driving:
- Keep the pelvis upright and all the way back in the seat. If your pelvis is not upright, your upper body cannot be upright either and your head will come forward causing upper back and trap tension.
- Feel even pressure on the back of the seat in both the right and left side of the pelvis.
- Feel the right and leftbones (what you are hopefully sitting on) with fairly even weight/pressure into the seat.
- Make sure the knees are not higher than the hips.
- Let the elbows hang down and avoid leaning on the door OR the console.
- Make sure the left foot is flat down on the ground.
- The twist of the foot and calf can mess with good knee tracking and the lifting of the heel can cause chronic calf tension which will also eventually affect the knee and the plantar fascia (fascia under the feet).
- Let the legs fall open if they want to. If your legs go parallel naturally and without having to hold them, you are in the minority and in luck as this would be better for your body.
- Do not hold your gas pedal leg up in the air! Move your whole foot and leg from the gas to the brake, do not pivot on the heel and use your toes on the pedal.
- Don’t have a dominant hand that does all the driving. Using one hand on your phone and the other on the wheel is dangerous for your posture along with obviously endangering every other driver and pedestrian you encounter.
Treat Knee Pain Caused by Driving
- Exercise and Stretching
- There are various exercises and stretches that you can do to reduce your pain.
- Cut Down on Drive Time: it is a simple way to avoid knee pain from driving too much
- Stay Hydrated
Treatment for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
In the short term
- Avoid strenuous use of the knee – until the pain eases. Symptoms usually improve in time if the knee is not overused. Aim to keep fit but to reduce the activities which cause the pain.
- Painkillers – paracetamol and/or anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen.
- Improving the strength of the muscles around the knee and hip will ease the stress on the knee.
- Specific exercises which strengthen the muscles of the hip and buttock.
- The physiotherapist can give advice tailored to your individual situation.
- Taping of the kneecap (patella)
In the longer term
- Physiotherapy for a long-term home exercise program, at least one year.
- Wearing suitable footwear
Surgery is still occasionally considered for people with anterior knee pain who do not respond to conservative treatment, depending on the diagnosis.
Medication for Knee Pain
- Cryotherapy (ice, cold therapy) is an excellent way to control your pain.
- Over-the-counter pain medications can be of use. These include anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen and Mediproxen (naproxen), and pain medications, such as APAP (acetaminophen).
- Occasionally heat can be of benefit after the initial pain has resolved. Heat is sometimes useful to combat stiffness.
- In addition to providing stability, braces provide pain relief by stimulating some of your nerve fibers which make you feel that the joint is more stable and secure.
How to Prevent Knee Pain from Driving during a Long Trip
- Place your foot flat and straight on the gas pedal to avoid lateral rotation of your lower leg.
- When you are getting out of the car for a break, look at your feet to see if your right foot is turned outward. If it is, make an effort to keep that foot pointed straight ahead.
- When you reach your destination and are sitting down, check those feet again. Then cross your legs so that your right foot is resting on your left thigh. Hold your right lower leg and rotate your foot toward you so that your foot points toward the ceiling. Doing this will helpavoid knee pain after driving long distance and increase the flexibility of your lower leg.
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