A skeleton highlighting the knees

What causes pain in the knees?

Knee pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in the human body.  It just so happens that the knee is the most commonly replaced joint in the body (the hip is second).  Knee pain occurs in two fashions.  First, the obvious trauma.  Second, the not so obvious dysfunction somewhere else (hip, ankle, core).  The following is a list of common reasons for pain in the knee:

  • Ligament Sprains and Tears (ACL, LCL, MCL, PCL)
  • Meniscus Wearing and Tearing
  • Patellar Tendinitis (Pain in Front of Knee)
  • Quadriceps Tendinitis (Pain in Front of Knee)
  • Hamstring Tendinitis (Pain Behind Knee)
  • Degenerative Joint Disease/Arthritis
  • Chondromalacia Patella
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
  • IT Band Syndrome

What is a torn meniscus in the knee?

The knee is comprised of three bones:  the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and fibula.  In between the tibia and the femur lies the meniscus.  The meniscus is made up of two wedged shaped pieces of cartilage that serve as "shock absorbers" during movement of the lower extremity.  Tearing the meniscus can happen from direct trauma such as over twisting the knee with the foot planted.  It can also result from aging and degeneration.  

It is important to realize that a torn meniscus may not always be clinically relevant but rather a normal process of aging.  We always recommend a good trial of care consisting of treatment and rehab before undergoing surgery to the meniscus.

An image showing a meniscus tear

What can cause knee pain without injury?

Commonly, knee pain develops without an obvious injury or trauma.  We find this type of knee pain is by far the most common and it typically involves other joints in the body.  For example, a runner that displays a valgus knee position (excessive inward movement) when their foot strikes the ground will commonly have issues with the knee joint.  If the treatment focuses solely on the knee then results will be minimal.  Instead, attention should be paid to the core, hip, and/or ankle joint.  When runners have poor gluteal and core strength or their ankle is extremely stiff, the knee tends to get "caught" in the middle.  A valgus knee position is also scene with jumping and squatting maneuvers.

A man with his knee going inwards while squatting.

Dynamic Knee Valgus

How do you relieve knee pain?

Like most painful conditions, an effort to stop the offending activity is a must.  Self myofascial release techniques using a foam roller or tennis ball to the quad and hamstring muscles can help loosen up the area.  Stretching of the hips can also be beneficial.  When knee pain persists, a visit to a professional for an extensive evaluation can help tremendously.  Letting the pain in your knee linger will most likely result in a change in how you walk and function which could start to cause problems in other places like the low back.  In addition, the likelihood of dramatic arthritic change to the knee joint will increase substantially.

Easy Stretch for Quad Tightness

Chesterfield Chiropractor Treats Knee Pain

How Can We Help?

Manual therapy and soft tissue manipulation are great tools to help calm down pain and inflammation.  However, the most important factor in treating knee pain is getting the individual to load their hips properly.  Without addressing movement impairments, knee pain is very hard to eliminate.  At Elite Chiropractic and Performance, we spend a lot of time and energy to improving the way we move so that we can assure optimal results.  If you are someone who has knee pain, or are concerned with your form during your workouts, schedule a consultation so that we can get you on the fast track to a pain free and optimal lifestyle!