Do you have knee pain and don’t know what’s causing it or what to do about it? If yes, then this blog is for you! If you are reading this blog chances are you are experiencing one of the following:
- Knee pain
- Swollen knee
- Knee tendonitis
- Knee bursitis
- Knee pain while bending
- Knee joint popping
- Knee joint grinding
- Or knee joint buckling
If so, you may have had an injury to your knee that needs to be addressed, was not addressed fully, or maybe you never had an injury and something else is going on!
The knee joint is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complex ones. So if you’re having knee pain don’t ignore it! Here’s everything you need to know!
What Does the Knee Joint Look Like?
The first step to treating your knee pain is to understand the structure so you can better understand exactly what is causing your pain. Let’s discuss the picture above which is an x-ray of the right knee.
Now, the knee joint is a joint where 3 bones come together, the:
- Femur (thigh bone)
- Tibia (shin bone)
- Patella (knee cap)
Between the femur and tibia is a shock-absorbing cushion called the meniscus. This is a very important structure that can also tear like any muscle, tendon, or ligament. The meniscus is formed by two c-shaped segments that make up the lateral (outside) and the medial (inside) meniscus.
In addition to the bones and the meniscus, there are four crucial ligaments that support and stabilize the knee joint. Are you still with me?.. First, we have the cruciate ligaments:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the front
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in the back
These two cruciate ligaments can be found on the inside of the knee joint. They cross in the middle to keep the knee joint from moving too far forward or backward. Then hugging each side of the knee are the collateral ligaments:
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) on the outside
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) on the inside
These two ligaments stabilize and help keep the knee joint from moving too much from side to side. There are also several small sacks called Bursa which are filled with fluid and help the knee joint move smoothly. Of course, just as in all joints, there are muscle attachments to the knee joint via the associated tendons, but I will stop the anatomy lesson here! Let’s dive into what can go wrong in this structure and what may be the cause of your knee pain in the next section.
What Causes Knee Pain?
Knee joint pain is so common, but the cause may not be what you think. Chances are when you picture a knee joint injury, you probably visualize a fall or an injury in an athlete such as a runner, soccer player, basketball player, or football player. These people do suffer from knee injuries as a result of shearing forces and direct insult to the knee, but what about the knee pain that comes without injury?
If you have had an injury or fall and want to know which of the structures I named above may be affected what the video below. If you’ve had an accident I do suggest booking an appointment with your chiropractor or functional movement doctor near you. If you do not have one and are local to the Orange County, CA area contact my office to book an appointment.
With a fall or a direct injury to the knee, you can end up suffering from a knee sprain or strain. A knee sprain has to do with the actual joint itself and may include even a partial tear to one of the ligaments in the knee joint. A strain is an injury to one of the muscles or muscle tendons that connect to the knee. If you haven’t had an injury or accident the next section is for you!
Knee Pain Without Injury
Knee pain without injury that has occurred over time and maybe gradually getting worse is referred to as chronic knee pain. Causes of chronic knee pain are related to:
- Bad posture
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Improper workout technique
- Sitting too much
- Dysfunctional movement
- Hip issues
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Lower back pain
- And more
Now you may be thinking.. well what does all this have to do with my knee pain? Please understand that knee pain is never just isolated to the knee but is directly related to the surrounding joints (ankle and hips) as well as the lower back! The most common feeder of chronic knee pain is sitting! Sitting too much and sitting imbalanced and with bad ergonomics! What the video below to see what I’m talking about and find out if you’re guilty of doing this!
What Does It Mean When Only One Knee Hurts?
Believe it or not, having knee pain in just one knee is worse than having knee pain in both knees! Osteoarthritis is the most common diagnosis thrown at any ache or pain and they tell patients it’s just a result of old age! But that is far from the truth! If that were true then why are we seeing arthritic changes in teenagers! That is because arthritis is not a result of old age, it is a result of imbalance!
Think about it. If you have knee pain on one side and they tell you that you have arthritis; well the other knee is just as old as that one. Why is there only pain and arthritis on one side? This video below explains it all!
What is the Best Treatment for Knee Pain?
In my practice, when a patient comes in with knee pain it is not only the knee joint that is looked at but a full-body functional assessment is performed. Why? Because any misalignment especially at the nearby joints can contribute to knee pain and dysfunction. On the other hand, knee pain can also result in compensatory movement and dysfunction in other areas. What it comes down to is that the whole body is connected and you never have a pain or injury whose effects are isolated to that area. It is one thing to get rid of the pain but to make sure the pain does not come back the whole body needs to be taken into account.
If there was a recent injury that took place it may be appropriate to do ultrasound or cold laser of the knee joint, and muscle stimulation of the involved muscles connected to the knee joint to promote healing and initially reduce pain. Cold laser is a pain-free treatment that creates energy deep in the knee tissue to promote blood flow into the area and encourage healing. It works to increase the speed, quality, and strength of the knee tissue.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to tape the knee. I prefer taping over bracing because bracing does nothing to correct the movement, but only limits the overall movement within that joint and will negatively impact the muscle strength as well as the motor or movement mapping in the brain. Taping of course is not going to cure your knee pain, but what will can be found when combining Developmental Kinesiology and Postural Neurology. To learn more about what these are and how they can help you I suggest you watch the videos below.
This involves not only strengthening the injured joint but includes full body stabilization and coordinating movement of the injured joint within what is referred to as the kinematic chain- the chain of muscle-bone-joint-tendon-fascia involved in a movement. We want to make sure the correct command for action and movement comes from the Brain.
Remember, health is in movement, injuries can be stopped if you slow down to correct the movement and do what needs to be done. If you do not give yourself your time, then all the things that take up your time now will mean nothing because life is not fun without health.