When knee pain isn’t just about the knee and why Osteopathy’s first principle is – THE BODY IS A UNIT

Oct 17, 2017


Many muscles crossing the knee joint stem from the pelvis.  The innervation (nerves that supply motor and sensory function to muscles) stem from the lumbar plexus, from the lower back.

The major muscles crossing the knee joint are:
Quadriceps- front of the knee
Hamstrings- back of the knee
Abductors- outside of the knee
Adductors- inside of the knee

It so happens that all these muscles also attach to the pelvis.  This is an important fact because if the pelvis has decreased motion it also creates tension to the muscles of the leg.  Tension will cause the muscles to shorten not allowing the knee to move freely.

Knee pain can also affect the hip because the same muscles bend and straighten both joints, so if one isn’t working functionally you can’t expect the other to work at 100%.

Another reason why people may experience knee pain is from lower back dysfunction. For example,  if you tend to stand on the balls of your feet this puts tension on both the front and back of the legs, increases the curve of the lower back, it shifts the pelvis forward, there is an over extension of the knees which creates stress to the ligaments and muscles of the knee.  If you stand more on the heals of your feet, this flattens out the lower back, rotates the pelvis backward, pulls on the front of the leg muscles which pulls on the tendon crossing the knee joint.


Nerves of the lower back are affected if the structural mechanics (the way bones moves) is changed by injury, day to day movements and posture.  Change to the nervous system means there is a change to the way the nerves are firing to the lower legs, changing the tone in the muscles. An increased tone in muscles will not allow the knee to move freely, creating inflammation and pain in the area.   Restoring nerve supply will restore muscle tone to the legs allowing for proper function.


Go see an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner!

Osteopathic Practitioners treat the body as a unit and use manual therapy to adjust and restore functional movement to the pelvis and lower back.  This allows for unrestricted motion of the joint, relieving the muscles of unwanted tension and tightness which was causing the knee pain in the first place.  Dysfunctional motion in a joint will also cause discomfort and pain because you are asking the joint to move out its normal range.

For example, your pelvis isn’t moving because you fell on your hip one day in the winter due to icy conditions.  This causes a outward rotation of the hip joint which will also cause an outward rotation in the knee.  This outward rotation puts strain on muscles and ligaments crossing the joint, at first it may not be noticeable but overtime this strain creates inflammation, pain a change in walking mechanics and eventually the body will compensate to accommodate for the winter injury creating more dysfunction in other joints.


So you see why a knee problem isn’t always a knee problem.  A change in movement to the hip and lower back can create the knee problem, and the knee pain is just the symptom not the cause.  It is the job of an Osteopathic Practitioner to find the root cause of the knee pain not just treat the symptom.

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