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  • Writer's pictureDr. Doug Pooley

Life can be a pain in the knee.

A lot of people suffer with periodic knee pain. I recently had a patient in her mid 60’s who had suffered from knee discomfort on and off for the past 20 years. The presentation was classic, with the irritation coming on after being on her feet for extended periods of time or walking on un-even ground. The pain was usually accompanied by some stiffness, swelling and heat around the affected area. The site of the discomfort was predominantly the inside and back of the knee with some reference to the front depending upon severity. The duration of the episode would vary from a few days to several weeks dependant upon the severity and seemed to respond to rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. The downside was, it always seemed to come back and did so with increasing frequency and duration often requiring more rest and meds. In this as in other similar cases, an X-ray evaluation will often demonstrate minor to moderate degenerative changes dependant upon age and length of the impairment. Left unattended the eventual outcome is predictably advanced arthritic change and ever increasing levels of disability. If I am ringing a few bells for some of you, I may be able to offer a reasonable solution.

You may not know that most arthritic change in the knee is secondary to wear and tear. This is usually associated with a functional breakdown at the knee or abnormal changes in weight distribution through the leg. The knee is essentially a hinge joint that has one major function to flex and extend the lower leg. As such, independent of direct trauma to the joint through injury, most knee breakdowns in my experience are gradual in onset and arise due to the following two causes. First, changes in function of the foot such as a fallen arch can cause a torsional shear (twisting insult) which weakens the knee. Second is a change in weight distribution due to improper hip or pelvic function. If your pelvis is not moving properly, it can change how your body weight is distributed down the leg to the foot, which also negatively impacts the knee. In both cases, the simple identification of the offending cause and it’s correction can restore function and eliminate most or all of the pain. Think about it, if your knee pain is recurrent in nature, then the real cause may not have been identified and could be found in one of the examples presented above.

Often, properly identifying and correcting the offending cause can make a massive difference on both the severity and frequency of knee pain and associated deterioration. Your chiropractor is specially trained to both identify and offer options for care that may positively impact your quality of life for years to come. All it takes is a simple office visit. Don’t let recurrent or chronic knee pain rule your life, there may be options. In the case of the patient mentioned in the opening, the root cause of her knee pain lay in a blockage in her pelvis involving the sacro-iliac joints. After a series of just a few treatments, she walked the International Plowing Match without ache or residual stiffness. It’s great when a plan comes together.  

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