The knee is a complex structure that involves 3 bones, 3 compartments, 2 menisci, 4 ligaments, cartilage, and many muscles and tendons. Balanced and coordinated motion of all of these structures allows the knee to move optimally and pain free. Pain, popping and less than optimal function of the knee can occur when any one of these components is not working properly. This can happen from injury, overly tight muscles, joint degeneration and even from foot, ankle or hip problems that shift the way the knee is used. Knee pain is a common musculoskeletal problem in all types of people. There are many causes of knee dysfunction, most of which are treatable with conservative care such as chiropractic manipulation, myofascial release, and rehabilitation. Some of the common diagnoses associated with knee pain are the following:
• IT band syndrome- tightness in a tendinous muscle along the side of the leg that pulls on the knee and causes pain on the outside of the knee.
• Meniscus tear- a tear or irritation of the fibrous cushioning between the joints of the knee.
• Runner’s knee- pain in the front of the knee from the quads pulling on their attachment.
• Arthritis- a narrowing and roughening of the joint space in the knee.
• Patello-femoral pain syndrome- a general term used to describe knee pain from various causes.
Each of these conditions is complex and can have many different causes. It is important to consult with a specialist familiar with knee conditions to determine the cause of your pain. Chiropractic care may be helpful for many of the causes of knee pain.
Causes and Symptoms
One of the more common causes of knee pain is sports activity. In cycling, running, or any activity that requires repetitive motion, some of the muscles are worked more than others, which can lead to muscular imbalances and general wear and tear. Each stride you take when running can place up to 550% more force on your knee than just standing, so whether you are running, playing soccer, walking, dancing, or hiking, all that force can wear on the structures of your knee.
Old injuries, either minor or major, can commonly cause scar tissue, which can change the way you use your knee, potentially leading to pain and arthritis (degeneration).
Another common cause of knee pain is arthritis, essentially degeneration and narrowing of the joint space, which can cause swelling, stiffness and pain. Other problem areas along the kinetic chain can cause knee pain. For example: foot, ankle and hip pain alters the way you use your lower leg and this can lead to knee dysfunction and pain. Increased body weight also causes more pressure on the joints, which on a daily, repetitive basis can lead to pain. Each extra pound of weight on the body adds 4 pounds of stress through the knee.
Common symptoms and indicators that you may need to see a chiropractor for knee pain include the following:
• Feeling the knee might buckle
With each stride, pedal, squat or plié the alignment of your knee joint and the muscles around it are vitally important for proper pain-free function. Each repetition of these activities reinforces the good body mechanics or the poor pain causing mechanics.
Sport training that repetitively stresses the same muscles, like running, cycling and dancing, over time can cause those muscles to shorten and tighten if they are not properly cared for.
Improper footwear can shift the angle of your foot and lower leg, changing the angle your knee glides. This can put unusual torque and stress on your knee leading to friction on the joint itself and tightness and inefficient use of the muscles around the knee like the IT band, quads, and hamstrings.
Depending on the cause of your knee pain some alterations to training can be helpful. After determining the cause of your pain you can modify your conditioning or training routine until your body is functioning optimally again. Avoiding pain-generating activities, decreasing intensity and frequency of workouts, and staying away from deep knee squats are all great short-term solutions. Some permanent changes may also be made like improving your bike fit, carefully choosing footwear, shedding a few pounds, being fit for custom orthotics, and learning proper squatting and exercise techniques.
Under some circumstances, wearing a brace may be beneficial for a short time. Like a Band-Aid it can help relieve the symptoms, but does not fix the problem. If you are finding it necessary to wear a brace frequently, it is a good indicator that your knee needs to be examined by a licensed professional familiar with knee problems.
While many medical doctors will listen to your symptoms and provide medications that may temporarily relieve pain. Chiropractic for knee pain includes a thorough examination of the muscles, ligaments, joints, posture and gait, as well as discussing past injuries and lifestyle habits that may be contributing to your condition. The chiropractors at Hosmer Chiropractic Health also have specialty training in complex joint and soft tissue problems that may cause knee pain. This training gives patients the confidence that their doctor is providing thorough chiropractic knee pain relief.
Most knee conditions respond well to conservative treatment like chiropractic and do not require surgery. Chiropractic care for knee pain relief generally includes several techniques, each chosen to relieve specific causes of knee pain. At Hosmer Chiropractic Health chiropractic for knee pain incorporates:
• Chiropractic adjustments: Gentle, controlled, and directed adjustments delivered to your knee and spinal joints and tissues to restore optimal movement and function.
• Myofascial Release (MFR): Knee pain can be associated with overly tight and over worked muscles in the legs, hip and low back. MFR works with the muscles and the soft tissues between the muscles to relax them and optimize their function. Similar to massage, MFR is a more focused and deep treatment of the soft tissues to relieve pain and restore movement.
• Active Release Technique (ART): This is a very targeted treatment of specific regions in the muscles and other soft tissues to release scar tissue, and improve muscle function. This is also effective for restoring motion of the meniscus, one of the more common causes of knee pain.
• Rehabilitation: Teaching you methods to help prevent your knee pain in the future! Rehabilitation incorporates stretches, exercises and foam rolling, which can be performed in the comfort of your own home or at your work place.