Knee pain is one of the most commonly treated orthopedic ailments. Our knees are subject to a tremendous amount of weight-bearing forces. These forces are best handled in a straight forward to backward motion. This is the primary motion the knee joint was designed for. Shearing force (force from the sides) and torque (rotational force) are more difficult for the knee joint to handle. Shear and torque account for many of the sports related knee injuries.
Direct trauma to the knee from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and other sources also lead to acute knee conditions. Poor alignment, over-use, genetic weakness, disease, and malignancy lead to chronic knee conditions. With both chronic and acute knee conditions, a Doctor of Chiropractic can be an invaluable resource in the diagnosis and treatment of your knee condition.
Knee problems can develop in and around the knee joint and can be caused by dysfunction or disease in the patella (kneecap) meniscus (knee joint) or in the surrounding ligaments or tendons. The muscles that attach to the knee may also experience problems. For instance, a quadriceps strain (the big muscle that runs down the front of the leg) can cause difficulty and pain when bending the knee joint.
A knee will experience undo stress when the joint is unable to glide in a nearly straight line. Over time, excessive side to side motion (shearing force) can cause serious joint problems. One of the more common problems from improper knee tracking is called Runner’s Knee. The over-use stress and jarring of routine running activities coupled with a poor tracking ability of the kneecap will wear down and inflame the knee joint cartilage. The result will be pain, swelling, and dysfunction. Left untreated, these inflammatory knee disorders will lead to arthritis.
Your Doctor of Chiropractic can determine how your knee is tracking while watching you walk or run. In addition, a measurement called the Q-Angle can be made to help determine how much tracking stress is being exerted on a knee joint. The Q-Angle is measured as the deviation that exists from an imaginary line drawn made between the hip, the knee, and the ankle. The more inward or outward the kneecap is in relation to the hip and ankle, the greater the tracking stress on the knee joint will be.
Knee alignment can be improved though therapeutic measures. Such measures include joint manipulation as well as stretching and to strengthening the muscles that support the knee. In addition, proper footwear with special attention to arch support, cushioning, and hyperpronation reduction (rapid turning in of the foot while walking or running) may greatly improve a knee condition.
As just mentioned, hyperpronation of the foot can contribute to your knee joint problem. A simple check to see if a foot is hyperpronating can be easily done as follows: Simply examine the heels of your shoes and look for patterns of wear. If a heel is worn off excessively at the outside edge, hyperpronation is evident. This excessive heel wear is caused from exaggerated rolling in of the foot. After the foot comes down normally on the outer edge the foot should gradually begin to roll inward to disperse the shock of heel strike. This is normal pronation. When the foot rapidly rolls in, hyperpronation is present. This rapid rolling in effect sands off the outer edge of the heel, which gives the uneven wear appearance when your shoes are examined. Hyperpronation of the foot translates to poor tracking of the knee joint and may result in the onset or contribute to the worsening of a knee condition.
Whether a knee condition is acute (injury related) or chronic (wear and tear related) the importance of getting a good diagnosis and receiving the proper treatment cannot be understated. Although analgesics can help relieve some pain and swelling, it takes proper corrective measures to address the underlying cause of the problem. A Doctor of Chiropractic is specially trained to treat these types of conditions at this level. A consultation with a chiropractor could help you determine just how much you can do to improve the condition of your knees.