Chiropractors treat musculoskeletal problems of a mechanical or structural nature. While chiropractors are primarily concerned with the spine and its effect on the nervous system, they also treat conditions affecting other areas of the body. Knee pain is a common complaint that brings patients into the office.
The knee is basically a hinge joint, but it allows a small degree of rotation. Because it is one of the least secure joints in the body it is frequently injured. The knee joint itself is the connection between two of the longest bones in the body: The femur (the bone in the thigh) and the tibia (large bone in leg below the knee). The patella, or knee cap, is also part of the knee joint. It sits in a groove in the front part of the femur and helps to increase leverage at the front of the knee. The fibula, the thin bone on the lateral side of the leg below the knee, is not part of the knee joint proper, but is often involved in knee problems.
Inside the knee joint are two thick semicircular cartilage pads known as menisci. Their primary purpose is shock absorption at the knee. Some very powerful muscles surround and support the knee joint, such as the quadriceps muscle at the front of the thigh, which straightens the knee, and the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh, which flex or bend the knee joint.
Sometimes the cause of knee pain is obvious, resulting from an injury, but often knee pain develops over a period of time, with no noticeable trauma. One of the most common causes of knee pain is a condition referred to as "patellofemoral syndrome". There is often a generalized ache in the knee that becomes more pronounced when climbing up stairs.
Sitting for a long period of time makes the knee feel stiff and the pain seems to increase temporarily when you first stand up. (This is referred to as the "movie sign" because it is often noticed after sitting in a movie theatre for a few hours.) This condition is often due to a muscle imbalance at the knee joint, which causes the patella to grind against the femur when the knee flexes and extends. A form of arthritis may develop under the knee cap as a result of this constant grinding. Though this is a frequent condition in active people, it is not unusual to find it in those who are less fit. In fact, poor physical fitness is thought to be a contributing factor. The most common cause, however, is spinal and pelvic misalignment, putting uneven stress on the knee joints.
Chiropractors treat joint problems primarily by manipulation. The purpose of this manipulation is to restore joint mobility and alignment. In the spine, this will serve not only to reduce pain and improve mobility, but also to reduce irritation to the nerves which exist between vertebrae. In other joints, such as the knee, manipulation serves to restore proper alignment, reduce tension in the surrounding muscles and allow for normal joint movement, which is so necessary for the maintenance of healthy joint cartilage. Chiropractors will also recommend exercise to strengthen the knee to prevent future problems. Should your knee be a cause for concern, consult this office to determine the cause and the best treatment approach.