Knee pain is a very common complaint for many adult Americans. This could be anything from swelling, discomfort, inability to bear weight, weakness, instability, reduced range of motion, crepitus (grating, grinding, cracking or popping) or the feeling like your knee will “give way” when you try to use it.
Your knee is one of the most complex joints in the body formed by the femur (thigh), tibia (shin), fibula and the patella (knee cap) along with the inner meniscus cartilage and several key ligaments (ACL/PCL). Your knees rely heavily on the strength of the surrounding muscles to be able to keep them strong, stable and pain-free.
Most Common Knee Pain Causes:
– Structural problems, such as alignment issues with the patella (knee cap) or angulation changes due to overcompensating muscles and/or weak muscles that attach to the knee joint. Patellar misalignment is a common cause of most knee pain and resolution can happen within moments of re-alignment via manipulation.
– Degenerative or auto-immune arthritis, which can include rheumatoid (an autoimmune condition that affects joints) or osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis which usually affects older adults). This is the most common cause of knee pain, affecting approximately more than 20 million people in the U.S.
– Direct injury – to either the bones, inner cartilage or ligaments/tendons. This often results in irritation or tears to the fluid-filled faces (bursae).
– Gout. Caused by uric acid or calcium-containing crystals forming in or on the joints of the knee, which create an inflammatory condition that appears for a period of time then resolves for a period of time.
– Infection. Certainly the least, but still a possible cause, where fluid retention and heat are almost always associated.
Other common causes include overuse, repetitive motions, osteoporosis, structural misalignment of the sacrum/lumbar spine and poorly fitting or non-supportive shoes.
Several Natural Therapies To Consider If You Are Dealing With Knee Pain
The knee and its surrounding tissues are directly connected to your nerve system via the nerves of your lumbar spine. The third lumbar segment specifically controls the area immediately above and directly into the knee joint itself. L4 controls the inner medial area (left side of the right knee and right side of the left knee) while L5 controls the outer lateral area (right side of the right knee and left side of the left knee). Misalignments of these vertebra can impinge upon these spinal nerve roots which decrease nerve transmission to the muscles, ligaments, tendon, and bone of the entire knee joint.
In addition, chiropractors are trained in joint biomechanics and can identify and correct patellar tracking issues (aka how the knee cap sits and glides within the knee joint during normal movement). It’s quite common for the majority of knee pain/range of motion issues to be associated with an improperly aligned knee cap, which usually resolves within just a few manipulation sessions. Additionally, hip and angle alignment issues can also affect the knee, which can also be corrected via chiropractic adjustment.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
PEMF is an electrical therapy that utilizes directed pulsed electromagnetic waves at various frequencies. Several peer-reviewed clinical studies have been performed on patients with direct injury and arthritis associated with knee pain that remains despite OTC and prescriptive medications showing significant improvement in knee pain, with most participants able to stop medications completely remaining pain-free. Decades of waves have been shown to stop the release of pain mediators (chemicals that result in pain production), increase blood flow and stimulate stem cell production (which can lead to joint remodeling and repair). PEMF’ing is essentially painless – the most common sensation is a slight contracting/squeezing sensation of the surrounding muscles. Most sessions are 30 or 60 min in duration.
This is a technique that can significantly decrease pain and increase ROM in a matter of minutes. Foam rolling targets the surrounding muscles, helping them to relax and reset, thus resetting knee alignment when done 2x daily
To foam roll your quads — Place your foam roller on the floor and lie on your stomach with the front of one thigh over the foam roller and the other leg on the floor for support. Roll the entire front of the thigh from the top of the hip to the top of the knee cap in an up and down motion.
To foam roll your IT band — Place your foam roller on the floor. Lie on your side with the outside of your thigh with the outside of the thigh over the foam roller and your other leg in front for support. Roll the entire outside of your thigh from your pelvis to your knee in an up and down motion.
To foam roll your hamstrings — While lying face up, place the back of one thigh over the foam roller and the other leg on the floor for support. Roll the entire back of your thigh from the bottom of the buttocks to your knee in an up and down motion. Do this for about 2 minutes each day.
To foam roll your adductors — Lie on your stomach with the inside of one thigh over the foam roller and your other leg straight on the floor for support. Roll the entire inside of your thigh from your groin to your knee in a side-to-side motion for about 2 minutes.
The root of all pain is inflammation; therefore any natural anti-inflammatory can help significantly (especially when the knee itself is inflamed via injury, arthritis or misalignment). The most common natural anti-inflammatories include:
- Turmeric & Ginger
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
- Collagen Peptides
- Glucosamine sulfate
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Omega 3/6/9 fatty acids/oils
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Bone Broth (or bone broth protein)
These techniques, either individually or combined, will help you to address the root cause of most knee pain thus allowing your body to self-correct which will have you have on your “knees” again in no time!