The knee joint is the largest joint of the body situated between the two longest bones of the body. The stress we place on our knees combined with other underlying factors in other areas makes it very common to have pain there. In the early 1940,’s after medical doctors from around the world had failed, Dr. Charles Mayo, the co-founder of the world famous Mayo Clinic, brought his wife to Dr. Bartlett James Palmer, the developer of chiropractic who helped her knee when nobody else could. And Dr. Palmer only corrected a misalignment of a spinal in Mrs. Palmer’s upper neck. He never treated the knee directly at all, much to the dismay of Dr. Mayo. Read more about this amazing event here.
How can this be? Dr. Palmer explained to Dr. Mayo, “Medical doctors are concerned with knowing everything about effects, while chiropractors are vitally concerned with cause in the backbone and how to correct it. What a difference between medical care and Chiropractic care!”
In some cases of knee pain the cause is obvious: a sports injury or auto accident that bangs or twists the knee joint. But in most cases of knee pain there has been no significant history of trauma to the knee itself; nothing to explain why the knee should be in such pain. In these cases therapy to the knee helps as much as trying to fix the tailpipe of your car to stop it from backfiring. Even in cases of so-called sports injury, there is very often an underlying predisposition to a knee problem, even before the offending event. We have to look at two underlying factors.
The first thing to check is the nerve supply to the muscles that stabilize the pelvis, hips and lower extremity. Very often, even in the case of a sports injury, we’ll find that the underlying neurology of the lower extremity was already compromised even before the event. The knee was simply an accident waiting to happen. Think of how quickly the tires on a car wear out when the wheels are imbalanced and out of alignment. Many people and athletes walk around with the silent seed of a problem that only becomes apparent when there is an “event.” The temptation is to look to the event as the cause when it was only the last straw.
When we look at pelvic alignment issues there is often a misalignment of one of the large bones of the pelvis called the ilium. These bones can get stuck out of alignment in either a forward rotated position referred to as an anterior ilium or in a backward rotated position called a posterior ilium. Anterior rotation of the ilium tends to create pain and tightness on the lateral (outer) part of the knee via theiliotibial band, the tensor fascia lata muscle and the gluteus maximus muscle. Posterior rotation of the ilium tends to create pain and tightness on the medial (inner) part of the knee via the sartorius muscle.
The second thing that leads to a knee problem is the overall alignment of the spine. Even misalignment at the very top of the spine will affect the weight bearing balance of the hips and knees. If you’ve ever tried to carry something on your shoulders that is not balanced you’ll immediately realize what a strain this places on the entire body. Because of the length of the spine and the angular leverage placed on the lower back and hips, even a small misalignment at the very top of the spine (atlas-C1 and axis-C2) can produce a huge amount of adverse stress in the hips and knees.
For many years I’ve observed conditions quite remote from the spine recovering when patients have their underlying spinal problems corrected. Certain chronic joint pain and injuries, even Osgood-Schlatter’s disease in young athletes, and knees that give out or buckle, often improve quickly during a course of spinal correction.
The brain, the master control area, is the central processing unit for the entire body. This is the source of Innate Intelligence that guides and coordinates all functions and all healing in the body. The messages carrying information from the brain travel first down the spinal cord, then down the nerves of the leg to send its messages to initiate repair to the knee. Some of these messages control circulation of blood which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the knee. Some conditions, such as arthritis, chronic tendinitis and Osgood-Schlatter’s (a condition seen in young athletes) could be the result of insufficient nutrient delivery to the knee. Others messages control the muscles groups around the hips and knee joints, ensuring the coordinated handling of stress to the knee joint during activity.
nterference with nerves that control muscles causes imbalance in the joint which leads to both acute injury as well as long term degeneration of the joint. Messages traveling through the nerves of the spine have to pass through rather small openings between the vertebrae. A common condition in most people is that the vertebra get jarred out of line by a minor (or major) fall or an accident. If something doesn’t happen to realign the bone back into place then the nerves that pass between the vertebrae can be blocked. If nerves to the knee are affected then muscle control and circulation to the knee can be disrupted. This kind of malfunction makes it impossible for the knee to function properly or repair itself from everyday stress and strain.