Knee Pain Treatment
Why It Happens
We treat a lot of knee pain in our office, and the causes of many cases of it are similar. What we often see are patients that are loading their hips and knees improperly when lifting weights, going up/down stairs, and getting up from a seated position. This group of people is essentially loading their knees too far forward over their toes, and placing undue strain on the patellar tendon, the bursa under it (a fibro/fatty sac that helps with friction between tendon and bone), and the menisci on either side of the joint. Often, these same patients are weak in their glutes, and lack mobility in their ankles, hips, mid or upper back.
Additionally, these same people often have overactive hamstrings, adductors, and a small muscle in the back of their knee called the popliteus. Each of these muscles, when used improperly, either creates an imbalance in the kneecap, so that it no longer glides properly in its joint, or creates excessive muscle pull on other structures in the knee, causing inflammation and pain.
In other cases, we see patients who are very weak in the muscles on the outside of their hips, or in particular, (for you anatomy buffs) the glute medius, glute minimus, and tensor fascia lata (the IT band muscle). With this population, when they are running, lifting, going up or down stairs, etc., their knees are slightly crashing inwards, and putting undue stress on the medial meniscus, inside-of-the-knee ligaments, the fibrous capsule around the knee, or even also the patellar tendon, which often leads to knee problems and pain.
How We Treat It
Because there are so many different causes of knee pain, we have to first adequately diagnose where your knee problems are coming from. We do this, first, with a good on-the-table muscle testing session, where we determine which of your muscles are strong and which ones are weak and inhibited. From here, we can use muscle activation on your underactive or weak muscles, and use ART and other myofascial release methods on the overactive ones, so that the function on both sides of your knee joint are even. In addition to these treatments with our doctors, you may even need to go through a “hip hinge” or “squat university” program, as well as a balance training program in the rehab room, in order to restore full function of your knees, and prevent future injuries in them.
How To Prevent It
There are some simple things that someone can do to prevent knee pain, but since there are so many causes, we cannot speak exhaustively here about how to prevent it. What we can say is that we encourage you to analyze how your knee position is when you go up or down a flight of stairs. Are you loading your knee too far over your toes, or are you sitting back into your glute muscles and using them to stabilize your lower body? Do you notice the same things when you are exercising using squats or lunges at the gym? Be cognizant of these positions of your knees and hips.
Something else you can do for prevention is to look up exercises like “glute clams, glute bridges, and hip hinges” online, which may help teach you to properly load your glutes. However, by far the best thing to do would be to come to our office and experience our aforementioned muscle testing exam, so we can sort things out before they begin to break down for you so that your knees can stay happy and healthy.