Knee pain is one of the most common ailments of the musculoskeletal system. Problems with the knee can be classified into three categories: 1) poor mechanics or overuse of the knee joint, 2) traumatic injury from events such as sports and falls, and 3) problems due to arthritic changes in the joint.
Poor mechanics of the knee joint and the associated stress upon the soft tissues of the knee is by far the most common cause of non-traumatic pain. The most common part of the knee affected by this is the patella or knee-cap. Often the patella does not move smoothly causing abnormal stresses upon the tendons cartilage and ligaments.
Imbalances in other muscle groups that attach to the knee can also lead to pain and dysfunction. Lower back problems especially in the sacroiliac joints, are one of the main reasons for imbalances in the muscles associated with knee movement and subsequent knee problems.
The main treatment for mechanical injuries to the knee is to re-establish proper balance of the muscles, restore proper movement to the patella and other joints of the knee, and correct any subluxations of the sacroiliac joints and foot problems. In certain cases, a brace is used to help with the alignment of the patella. Chiropractors are ideally trained to provide the proper diagnosis and management of these problems.
Traumatic injuries often occur during sports that involve running and jumping. When the knee is stretched or twisted beyond the strength of the ligaments that hold the joint together, tearing of these tissues can occur causing a sprain. The muscles that move the knee can also be torn during injury causing a strain or pull of the muscle. As with a sprain, a muscle strain can vary from a minor injury that requires little care to a severe injury requiring surgery.
If poor mechanics or traumatic injuries are not corrected at an early age, the tissues of the knee joint especially the cartilage will eventually begin to wear out. As a result the bones rub upon one another and changes such as bone spurs can occur. This painful condition is known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis and is often progressive with age.