A Chiropractic View of the Knee
If you have ever had a knee injury you soon realize the importance of the joint you once took for granted. Knee injuries can affect athletes at any time and if not treated properly can plague one for years. A higher degree of knee injuries occurs in athletes due to the huge demand on them, the direct trauma of a a fall, for example, or from repetitive stress factors.
Trauma to the knee requires doctors to check for fracture, meniscus tear, cruciate or collateral ligament tears. Questions a specialist will ask: Was the knee hyperextended at the time of injury? Was the knee twisted or hit from the outside? Was there a pop at the time of injury? Immediate or delayed onset swelling? DOes the knee give or lock in a certain position?
Torn ligaments come in varieties: mild, moderate, sever, and completely torn. This case demands that the knee be stabilized, braced, and in some instances surgery is recommended to attach any loose ends.
Repetitive Stress/Non-Traumatic Injuries
Soft tissue injuries to the knee are often the result of either imbalances to the large muscles that move and support the knee or stem from excessive foot pronation, ankle instability, and pelvic misalignments.
Joint misalignments stress the normal biomechanics of the knee. Performing a marathon or a century ride will compound these forces and cause pain. Debilitating as they are, repetitive stress injuries are preventable. The challenge is to find the cause, not just medicate the symptoms.
Chiropractic View of the Knee
The knee is comprised of the three longest bones in the body. The bones in the calf, the tibia, and the fibula, also form the ankle joint below and transmit the force of every step up to the knee. Misalignment of the tibia generates excessive torque on the knee. Lateral knee pain can result from fibular misalignment. The longest bone, the femur, rests on the tibia and forms the hip joint as it meets the pelvis. Pelvic misalignment will disrupt leg balance and torque the knee externally causing medial knee pain.
The foundation of the knee and, indeed, the body, is the feet. A fallen arch and excessive pronation undermine the support of all the leg joints and if they are ignored can lead to degenerative arthritis.
Hypertonic, tense muscles can be massaged in a effort to give relief. However, this tension is often the reaction from an opposing muscle's failure to balance. A "tug of war" ensues between over tight muscles and inhibited, weakened muscles with the knee joint caught in the middle. Tight muscle is a reaction to an opposing muscle that is inhibited. Posture gives a clue to muscle inhibition. Knock knees: inhibited sartorius and gracilis. Bow legged: inhibited adductors. Hypertension of the knee: inhibited quadriceps or gastrocnemius.
What Are the Choices?
Here is a dream list of professionals for knee injuries: A Sports Chiropractor who corrects extremity joint alignment and Applied Kinesiologist to assess and correct muscle dysfuction. A Physical Therapist for rehabilitation of damaged tissues and a Physical Trainer to help with muscle strengthening. Foot supports, called orthotics, fitted by a Podiatrist or Sports Doctor. Massage is highly recommended as well as yoga instruction.
Rehab protocol begins with gentle exercises: first passive, then active with simple balancing exercises. Next comes resisted active exercises or light weight training along with specific balancing exercises to develop joint proprioceptors. The severity of the injury will determine when rehab begins.
When the skeleton is aligned with all the muscles firing performance is raised to its highest potential. Most professional and Olympic level competitors know and live by these principles. Not only are they out of pain quickly, but other physical problems may begin to subside as well.
Article written by Dr. Craig Eymann, DC, Clinical Nutritionist, Personal Trainer in Santa Cruz, CA. Dr. Craig is a muscle, joint and extremity specialist who can help you with any knee issues. Call Dr. Craig at 831-425-1288 to set up an appointment.