By Dustin Dillberg
The knee is an amazing joint that acts as a lynchpin for mobility. As complex as the knee may seem, it really is a simple joint asked to do a complex job. It is a beautiful hinge that responds to demands coming from the foot and ankle (the ground up) and from the torso and hip (top down).
The most common reason pain occurs is due to the mixed messages that the joints from above and below are sending. The hip often tells it to do one thing, while the foot and stimulus from the ground is demanding something else.
To best understand the lynchpin action of the knee, let’s look at the structures above and below.
The small musculature of the foot and ankle could be represented by the power equivalent to a rubber band gun, while the prime movers of the body and massive musculature of the hip are like that of a jet-powered engine.
The knee is asked to convert the massive power output of the hip to the small and intricate components of the ankle that are designed for movement and agility.
If there is a lack of function and or stability of either joint above and/or below, the knee will become compromised, having to make up for the deficiency. This can show itself in a few different ways:
— It can show up with a twisting effect, called tibial torsion, where the foot points away from midline, while the kneecap points towards midline.
— The knee can result with a loss of full range of motion leaving the knee unable to fully straighten.
— It can also result in a side to side motion while bending the knee, i.e. sitting or squatting, This does to your knee hinge what a child can do to a cabinet door when they hang from it and take the motion of the door for a ride. Literally sheering the hinge to wobble or worse, rip it from its anchor.
But we have great news for knee pain sufferers! We have three great concepts that will make the knee pain sufferers you know regain hope for a pain-free life:
1. The knee can operate without pain even with tears in the meniscus, degeneration, arthritis, or even if surgery attempts to cure the pain fail.
Studies show that most people over 50, walking, running, or dancing around without pain, have some level of meniscus degeneration or tears. So a damaged meniscus does not mean you have to be in pain.
The meniscus is one of the most amazing tissues in the body. When healthy, it is seven more slippery than ice on ice. This can be good or bad depending on the joint of the knee and how the knee is related to the hip and ankle while moving. If the knee is in a compromised position with less than optimal stability coming from the joint above (the hip) or below (the ankle) that slippery surface creates a very injury-prone situation for your ligaments (acl, mcl, pcl, and/or lcl).
If you have been told you have meniscus pathology, I urge you to explore non-surgical options to change the way the pressures are distributed on the problematic joint tissue. You just may be able to live pain-free like many of my clients without surgery or medication.
2. The knee pain most feel is not just from overuse or age.
It is most commonly from misuse, lack of use or used in a poor position. Odds are that your knee is getting stuck making up for another body part (maybe a hip or ankle as described earlier) that is not functioning at 100 percent. So yes, the pain you feel is probably not caused by a problem where you feel it, but the real problem is somewhere else not carrying its own weight. This explains why treatment at the site of pain may have temporary or little effect.
3. The knee has a great chance of healing with proper care.
First we need to explore “Why” the tissue is having the problem and look at the “Big Picture”. This will involve correcting posture, stability, balance and movement patterns. Once this is achieved, the body will stop the degenerative cycle and can start to heal.
Secondly, a healthy lifestyle is needed. Start with focusing on getting ample sleep to allow the body to heal. Get proper nutrition with a focus on hydration and healthy fats. One fat that is especially beneficial for joint health is grass-fed butter.
Lastly we can speed up the process naturally with supplementation.
There are specific nutrients and herbs to support that can help you quell the painful inflammation and speed up the healing process. I recommend a specific set of products that are amazing for joint performance and repair.
- Dustin Dillberg is the co-owner of Pain Free Kaua‘i in Lihu‘e, and can be reached at (808) 245-0007.