The two most common causes of knee pain are an injury or degenerative joint problems (which can be secondary to an injury or develop from chronic wear and tear). There is also a number of contributing factors. Certain kinds of activities and sports are hard on the knee. These include regular running or jogging for exercise, sports that require kicking, pivoting and twisting, and certain kinds of work activities such as regular heavy lifting or climbing stairs and ladders. Obesity affects all of the leg joints, including the knee, and increases stress on the joint.
Pain in the extremities causes the patient to change the way he or she moves, which can increase stress on other joints, muscles and ligaments. Chronic limping, for example, can cause back pain or pain in the opposite leg, which takes on extra weight-bearing requirements. Any kind of chronic pain can cause more generalized symptoms, like sleep problems, fatigue or mood changes (anxiety, depression or irritability). Knee pain can also cause chronic inflammation, which results in chemical changes in the body.
Chiropractic helps knee pain in two main ways. The first is to correct any alignment problems that may be causing or contributing to the knee pain. The second is to help relieve spasm or muscle tension. Associated treatments like the application of heat or cold and soft tissue massage can help decrease inflammation and improve range of motion. Chiropractors may also use splints or orthotics to support the joint and promote better posture.
Surgery should always be a last resort. Each case must be evaluated individually. If the cartilage in the knee become severely degenerated, conservative treatment can only do so much. An inflamed tendon may respond to chiropractic, but a torn tendon is more likely to need surgical repair. Sometimes regular chiropractic treatment and an exercise program to strengthen muscles or promote flexibility may allow the patient to delay surgery for months or years.
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