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Chiropractic is a safe and effective treatment option for a range of knee problems such as patellar femoral pain syndrome, jumper’s knee and osteoarthritis. All knee problems are different, which is why chiropractic for knee pain utilises a variety of treatment techniques individualised the patient and their specific injury.
What does chiropractic for knee pain involve?
The goal of chiropractic is to not only address the painful area but also to treat the underlying cause(s). Only by treating the underlying cause of a problem do we see long-term relief from pain and injury.
“He who solely treats the site of pain is lost and so is his patient.” Prof Karel Lewit.
Knee pain is rarely an isolated knee problem. More often than not weakness or restriction in other areas cause overload in the knee which eventually results in pain. Below you can see a typical compensation pattern of the knee.
This compensated pattern can result from a number of factors (weakness in the foot or trunk, restriction in hip etc.) but the result is the same; The inward collapse of the knee stretches the ligaments on the inside of the knee and compresses the cartilage and meniscus on the outside. This predisposes to acute ligament injury (ACL/ MCL rupture, meniscus tears) and cartilage breakdown (osteoarthritis) later in life. This faulty alignment of the knee also alters the smooth tracking of the patella (kneecap) which can result in patella pain such as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
If this pattern of movement is present, treating the knee in isolation will only get you so far.
Treating the underlying cause and not just the area that hurts is a big factor in the success of chiropractic treatment for knee pain.
How does chiropractic for knee pain work?
Manipulation works to restore the function and movement of restricted joints. In the case of knee pain this is often utilised to restore full movement of the hips, pelvis and feet which are commonly found to be restricted in cases of knee pain.
Restriction of specific joints can also act to inhibit (turn off) certain muscles. For example, restriction of the sacroiliac joint of the pelvis can inhibit the gluteal muscles and other hip stabilisers. This is extremely important in knee pain as the gluteal muscle are one of the primary muscles responsible for the controlling position of the knee.
Tightness in muscles of the hip and lower leg can indirectly result in knee problems as discussed above. Other muscles however can also directly cause pain in the knee.
The rectus femoris (see image below) is one of four quadricep muscles that sits on the front of your thigh. It runs from the front of the hip all the way to the knee cap. A trigger point (or knot) in this muscle near the hip (marked by the ‘X’) can cause referred pain over the knee joint itself. This will often cause pain in the knee at night. Trigger points can be effectively treated with hands on manual therapies such as ischaemic compression, active release or dry needling.
If overload of the knee results from weakness, corrective exercise can be used to activate and strengthen the correct patterns. Single leg deadlifts (pictured below) are a fantastic exercise to strengthen both the hips and the feet (two common culprits of knee problems), whilst placing minimal load on the knee.
Some chronic knee issues, especially tendonitis and osteoarthritis can also be impacted by nutrition. Nutrient deficiencies and pro-inflammatory diets (those high in simple sugars and refined oils and low in fruit and vegetables) can reduce tendon and cartilage resilience. Changes in diet or addition of specific supplements can reduce systemic inflammation and enhance tissue healing. Click here to learn more.
Is chiropractic for knee pain safe?
Yes. Chiropractic is widely recognised as one of the safest, drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of nerve, muscle and joint complaints. Most patients experience immediate relief following chiropractic treatment for knee pain however, some may experience mild soreness, stiffness or aching, just as they might after exercise. Current research shows that this discomfort typically fades within 24 hours.
Are you suffering with knee pain?
Click here to find out how Treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI could help.
- Image 3: Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
‘Chiropractic for knee pain’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.