Gas Pedal Knee: Understanding This Common Condition and How to Treat It
If you’ve ever taken a long road trip, you’ve probably had the feeling of stiff or sore muscles after being cooped up in the car for hours. As Americans spend more time in their cars, a condition known as gas pedal knee is a growing problem. Gas pedal knee is the layman’s term for patellar tendinitis, a repetitive stress injury to the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). Learn more about this condition, its symptoms, and treatment from Reflex Knee Specialists.
What Causes Gas Pedal Knee Pain?
When people drive a car, their foot constantly pivots between the gas and brake pedals. Since this pivoting requires varying degrees of pressure on each pedal, it causes the driver to hold their right foot in several different positions. If their right foot is positioned incorrectly, it may start to point farther outward than their left foot. This can put pressure on the knee, leading to muscular imbalance and pain.
Gas Pedal Knee Symptoms
Symptoms of gas pedal knee can include:
- Pain when bending or straightening the leg
- Pain with walking, jumping, or running
- Pain and tenderness at the base of the kneecap
Athletes are also at risk of developing patellar tendinitis because running and jumping activities put stress on the patellar tendon.
Preventing Gas Pedal Knee
Individuals who drive for a living or spend a lot of time in their car can reduce their risk of developing gas pedal knee. This type of repetitive stress injury is caused by poor leg and foot positioning. Take these steps to help prevent it:
- When driving, make sure to place your foot flat on the center of the gas pedal.
- Be conscious of your posture.
- When standing, balance your weight equally on both feet.
Patients who play sports should be sure to seek coaching on the correct techniques to minimize the risk of a knee injury.
Gas Pedal Knee Treatment
If you have recurrent knee pain while driving, you should see a medical professional for an evaluation. The earlier you get your knees looked at, the better. Conditions like osteoarthritis often start with mild or infrequent symptoms.
Reflex Knee Specialists offers several different treatments for knee pain, including:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: This injection treatment uses a person’s own platelet cells to reduce inflammation and enhance tissue recovery. It can be used to treat tendon or ligament injuries, as well as osteoarthritis.
- Viscosupplementation: This non-invasive procedure injects synthetic hyaluronic acid (the principal component of joint fluid) into the affected knee to reduce pain and inflammation and to improve mobility.
These treatments can offer long-term pain relief and promote overall knee health, which helps to prevent more serious issues in the long term.
Recommended Exercises for Gas Pedal Knee
The goal for stretching and exercising is to increase the flexibility of your lower right leg so that it better matches your left leg. Follow these steps to stretch out your right leg:
- Sit on a chair and cross your legs by putting your right ankle on your left thigh.
- Grab your right foot with one hand and place your other hand just below your right knee.
- Pull upwards, with your right foot pointing towards the ceiling, until you feel a stretch.
- Once you get your leg and foot in that position, let go with your hands and hold that position for as long as you can comfortably.
This exercise will help increase the flexibility in the right leg and restore muscular balance with the left.
As with any repetitive use injury, stopping the activity that causes the pain should be a priority. Try to cut down on the amount of time you spend driving. When possible, walk, ride your bike, or use public transit. You should consult your doctor before beginning any treatment plan. Stretching and lifestyle changes can help alleviate the pain caused by gas pedal knee.
Discuss Gas Pedal Knee Treatment at Reflex Knee Specialists
If you’re experiencing gas pedal knee pain, make sure you’re working with an experienced specialist who can create a customized treatment plan. Led by a compassionate team of providers, Reflex Knee Specialists offers non-surgical care for a wide range of knee conditions and injuries. With offices in Portland, Oregon; Bellevue, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona, we’re standing by to serve patients in the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and to discuss knee pain.