This is a common question I get asked all the time in my practice. Most of the time the pain in the knee is caused by problems outside of the knee. WHAT?
You see, the knee is a relatively simple joint that has two major ranges of motion, front to back with some minimal rotation at the knee to allow for that movement.
Now, why would a joint that had only two motions be the cause of the most common pain in the lower body next to back pain? It is because the knee has no way to compensate.
Knee Injuries, Degeneration and Imbalance
You see the ankle, hip, pelvis, and low back all influence the stability of motion in the knee.
So, unless a direct injury to the knee occurs like someone getting slide tacked in soccer, or tackled at the knee in football in a way that causes a tear or break, then the damage is being caused by imbalances above and below the knee.
The ankle and hip/pelvis have far more range of motion, and with increased motion comes a decrease in instability of the joints. Additionally, the hips are influenced by the function of the low back and pelvis.
All of the major muscle groups connecting and stabilizing the knee have connections from the hip and pelvis, and these muscles connect and coordinate with muscles that connect with the foot and ankle.
So, by far the majority of knee pain comes from unbalanced motion coming from the ankle/foot and/or hips/pelvis as a result the knee is punished by the abnormal load. Because any imbalance in those areas creates strain at the knee to which the knee has no flexibility to accommodate.
Over time, the imbalance grinds away at the joint and tissues until eventually there is a failure. Failure can show up as a tear when doing a recreational sport or just a simple action like walking and hiking. Also, the failure can come as a slow grind with degeneration of the joint to the point where the collagen is run down to the bone.
Either way, the knee is now permanently compromised and will never be the same.
Then the activities that people once loved to do become memories.
Knee Pain Causes Without Obvious Injury
Many times, I see young kids and adults with knee pains but no clear injury. With older patients, they usually have had a history of pain with and without surgical procedures or intervention.
The average patient has had at least a year of knee pain before they see me and typically, the pain comes and goes or is persistent only during/after an activity, and then the pain takes a day or two to go away.
The basic problem is they can still function, so nothing is done to address the imbalance that is damaging the knee.
Knee Pain Treatment
Let me be clear…
There are a lot of causes of knee pain, but anytime you have knee pain it’s a clear sign that something is wrong, and damage is occurring, either slowly or rapidly.
This needs to be addressed by a competent physician with knowledge of how to assess your spine, pelvis, hip, and ankle for imbalances, and screen for any potential damage.
And then, focus on a rehabilitative program to decrease any possible inflammation and normalize the motion again.
We invite you to come to Spine and Injury Center and learn about our holistic approach to your knee pain. You can make an appointment with us through our website or simply by calling us at 408-379-8888.