Knee pain is the second most common cause of chronic pain with more than a third of all Americans reporting decreased activity due to their knee pain. According to the American Osteopathic Association, approximately 65 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 have experienced knee pain. However, knee pain can affect people of all ages.
The knee is located between the upper and lower leg. This joint supports the body and allows the leg to bend. The knee is comprised of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Because the knee is used for walking, jumping, turning, crouching and much more, it can easily become damaged and cause knee pain.
What Causes Knee Pain?
There are many reasons for knee pain, including trauma, wear and tear, age, infection, metabolic issues and connective tissue disorders. Each of these issues can cause chronic or acute knee pain, inflammation, redness and damage to the structure of the knee.
Injuries to the knee often occur in the three main ligaments- the ACL, the MCL and the PCL. A sudden change of direction or an impact to the knee often damages these ligaments. These types of injuries are often the result of a car accident, a lifting injury or an athletic injury.
Wear and tear can cause inflammation and pain. Tendinitis and bursitis are two conditions that cause inflammation. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons in the knee. Bursitis, on the other hand, is inflammation of the bursae (fluid-filled sacs that cousin the knee).
Dislocations and fractures can occur from a fall or accident. A fracture can occur in any of the bones inside the knee. Dislocations of the kneecap are extremely painful and can damage the function of the knee joint.
Degenerative Tissue Disorders
Degenerative disorders are age-related disorders that cause stiffness and pain. The most common type of degenerative disorder experienced is osteoarthritis. By the age of 80, almost all adults have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can damage the joint. When the damage becomes severe, the osteoarthritis sufferer may require joint replacement surgery.
Connective Tissue Disorders
There are a number of connective tissue disorders that affect the lining of the knee joint. One such disorder is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes the joints to swell. Over time, Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint deformity and bone erosion.
Gout is a metabolic disorder that allows uric acid crystals to build up in the joints. Gout is a form of arthritis that causes the knee to become swollen and inflamed. The knee’s range of motion becomes diminished. Gout is extremely painful.
A bacterial skin infection can affect the knee and result in cellulitis. The symptoms of cellulitis include heat, redness and tenderness to the touch. The knees in the joint can become infected, resulting in septic arthritis. This type of infection can cause pain, redness, swelling and fever. If not treated properly, permanent damage can occur to the cartilage in the knee.
What Are the Different Types of Knee Pain?
Knee pain can either be acute or chronic. Acute pain is defined as short-term pain lasts for less than six months and begins suddenly. Once the underlying cause is discovered and treated, the pain will resolve itself. Chronic pain continues after the injury has healed. The nervous system keeps transmitting pain signals to the brain that can last for week, months or years.
Conventional Medicine Treatment
When you visit a conventional doctor, the doctor will do a complete exam and look for swelling, redness, tenderness, bruising and ask about your pain levels. The doctor will make you move your leg in different directions to see how if it moves properly and push and pull on the joint to determine the integrity of the knee structure.
The doctor may order a variety of tests, including an ultrasound, x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI. If the doctor suspects you are suffering from gout or an infection, he may do a needle biopsy to help determine what is causing your pain. This fluid will be sent to a lab for analysis.
After your diagnosis, the doctor may recommend a variety of medications, including pain relievers, muscle relaxers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy may be used to help improve muscle tone of the hamstrings and quadriceps. Arch support, bracing and painful injections may also be prescribed.
Some injuries may require surgery. The most common types of surgery are arthroscopic surgery to remove damaged cartilage, reconstruct torn ligaments and remove loose bodies in the knee. A partial or total knee replacement surgery replaces the bones in the knee joint with an artificial joint that is made of polymers, metal or plastic.
Functional Chiropractic Treatment for Knee Pain
Conventional medicine is based on treating the symptoms rather than getting to the root of the problem that is causing your knee pain. A functional chiropractor will seek to find the root cause or your knee pain, swelling and inflammation. The chiropractor will do a thorough physical exam of your entire body, rather than just inspecting your knee. The chiropractor may also order imaging studies, such as ultrasound, x-rays, CT scans and an MRI to help determine the root cause of your knee pain and inflammation.
Knee pain can originate from other tissues and areas in the body. For example, the hip, pelvis, foot, ankle or back can be misaligned, causing your knee problems. A chiropractor will work to correct these misalignments by performing spinal manipulations. Spinal manipulations help to restore the function of the joints in your body and help correct misalignments.
For knee injuries that are not due to a misalignment, the chiropractor may use a pulsed cold laser to help promote healing of the damaged tissues and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that cold lasers relieve pain, relieve knee pain, reduce inflammation and improve flexion. Cold Laser Therapy works by making microcirculatory changes to the knee. The cold laser reaches deep within the tissues and increases circulation which floods the injured tissues with oxygenated blood to help the injured area heal quicker.
Rather than undergoing conventional medicine therapies that are painful and do not correct the problem, choose to visit a functional therapist. A functional therapist will find the underlying cause of your knee pain. Once the underlying cause of your knee pain is discovered, the functional chiropractor will help to correct the issue to relieve your knee pain. This may include spinal manipulations to correct subluxations in the spine, which will correct hip, ankle, foot and pelvic problems. Additionally, the chiropractor may utilize pulsed cold lasers to help heal the damaged tissues.
Suffering from knee pain? Tired of prescription medications and other treatment options? Our functional chiropractor can help. Call today.