Knee pain After spinal conditions, knee pain is one of the most common ailments of the musculo-skeletal system. Knee problems can develop for three reasons:
1) poor mechanics or overuse of the knee joint, 2) injury due to sports, falls, or accidents (traumatic pain), 3) arthritic changes in the joint. Patella Femoral Syndrome ( Knee Cap Pain ) Poor mechanics of the knee joint and related stress upon the soft tissues of the knee is by far the most common cause of non-traumatic (not due to an accident or fall) pain. The most common part of the knee affected by this is the patella or knee-cap. Often the patella does not move smoothly or sufficiently on the femur when the knee is bent, which puts abnormal stress on nearby tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. This condition is often called chondromalacia patella or CMP though a better term is patella femoral syndrome. The problem usually starts with an imbalance in the quadriceps muscles of the thigh, which attach to and move the patella.
The associated pain is felt during activity, especially stair climbing, running, jumping and after getting up from prolonged sitting. Women are more predisposed to this problem for anatomical reasons as well as use of high heels.
Repetitive Knee Strain - Overuse Injury Imbalances in other muscle groups that attach to the knee can also lead to pain and dysfunction. For example, when the muscles on the inside of the thigh become strained and tight it can result in pain on the medial (inside) side of the knee.
Lower back problems, especially in the sacroiliac joints, are one of the main reasons for imbalances in the muscles associated with knee movement and subsequent knee problems. Foot problems that cause gait abnormalities such as pronation, are another cause of knee pain.
The main treatment for mechanical or overuse injuries to the knee is to re-establish proper balance of the muscles, restore proper movement to the patella and other joints of the knee, and correct any subluxations of the sacroiliac joints and foot problems. In certain cases, a brace is used to help with the alignment of the patella or to stabilize the joint.
Chiropractors are ideally trained to provide the proper diagnosis and management of these problems.
Trauma Traumatic injuries often occur during sports that involve running and jumping, such as football and basketball, and with activities such as skiing or skateboarding. When the knee is stretched or twisted beyond the strength of the ligaments that hold the joint together, the tissues may tear or sprain. The muscles that move the knee can also be torn during injury causing a strain or pull of the muscle. As with a sprain, a muscle strain can vary from a minor injury that requires little care, to a severe injury requiring surgery.
The knee also contains two areas composed of cartilage - the menisci - between the tibia and the femur that provide for smooth movement and cushioning. These pieces of cartilage can also tear during trauma, which often requires surgical repair or removal if damaged too severely. Traumatic knee injuries can cause severe pain and swelling and require immediate evaluation and attention. In most cases a qualified chiropractor can manage these conditions, though there are some injuries that do need the expertise of an orthopaedic surgeon. In any case, it is important to stabilize the injured joint and ice if possible until professional assessment is obtained.
Treatment If poor mechanics are not corrected at an early age, or traumatic injuries are not treated soon after injury, the tissues of the knee joint (especially the cartilage) will begin to wear out. As a result, the bones rub together and changes such as bone spurs can develop. This painful condition is known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis and is often progressive with age.
Chiropractors are specifically trained to make the right diagnosis and provide treatments for management of knee problems.
People can also help themselves by keeping their weight down, exercing (especially in the pool), and wearing cushioned shoes or insoles.