“Oh My Aching Knee”


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Some causes of knee pain may surprise you. A patient complaining of pain on the outside of his or her knee a lot of times actually suffers from a tight iliotibial band (IT band). Through a series of questions and orthopedic tests a proper diagnosis can be made, and with good rehabilitation that patient can be on their way to pain free athletic training. A great majority of cases I see actually come from the pelvis. When a pelvis is out of alignment, due to poor posture and or weak stabilizing muscles, the body adapts and compensates for that and forces an “auto correct” of sorts, on the lower extremities so you can continue to walk and not feel lop-sided. The down side of this is your body is now using a joint (the knee) in a position it wasn’t designed for, thus causing early degeneration. The solution for this is not to address the knee pain, but to address the cause. Through a chiropractic adjustment, the hips can be realigned, but you shouldn’t stop there. The muscles in the surrounding structures need to be retrained to support the proper position, which means certain muscles need to be stretched, while others need to be strengthened. And yes, contrary to some popular belief, Chiropractors are not simply doctors of the spine and nervous system- we are trained in diagnosing and caring for upper and lower extremity conditions too.

Hopefully by now it is clear there is more to this common condition than meets the eye. In the same way that misalignment can cause knee pain, knee pain can also cause a misalignment or a “subluxation” as we chiropractors call it. Let’s take that football player, for instance. The most common traumatic injury to the knee is due to a blow from the outside of the knee which forces the knee to bend unnaturally inward injuring the medial collateral ligament (MCL). If the hit is strong enough it will injure the most midline tissue, the anterior cruciate ligament, and in the highly unfortunate case that the force is strong enough the lateral meniscus will also be damaged. This horrifying injury is appropriately named “The Unhappy Triad” (sometimes called O’Donohuges Triad). With any harsh trauma such as this surgery is required for repair. Post-surgery, however, the individual is left limping while he or she continues to heal. Even if the knee injury isn’t so severe that an operation is necessary, any sort of limping will throw a person off balance and the body will do its best to self-correct which can actually cause the body to develop a misalignment. The best way to combat this is proper muscle training and rehabilitation. Taking appropriate measures post-injury helps avoid limping and fosters supportive, corrective healing. This will not only prevent misaligned hips and back problems, but it will decrease chances of re-injuring the tissue.

The take away point here is this: to understand knee pain, you need to get to the bottom of it. Getting relief from pain via pain killers, or other temporary remedies does not address the cause of your pain. No, it only puts you at risk for further injury. Do not attempt to diagnose yourself! Smart phones are wonderful tools but they do not substitute going to a specialist. Wherever you are on your road to recovery, if you have knee pain, talk to your chiropractor, I am sure they will be happy to help you get back to doing the things you love- pain free!

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About Dr. Tiffany Kelly

Doctor of Chiropractic

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