Back and Knee Pain
Back and knee pain seem to be a common complaint these days. Everyone from high school athletes to elderly seek out help for back and knee pain. Unfortunately, these pains, if not treated, tend to discourage further exercise and activities until the pain is relieved. If a broken bone or serious injury are ruled out, what is the usual treatment for pain? Pain killers and muscle relaxers. These indeed can help with back or knee pain, but how long does the relief last? If the muscle relaxers or pain medicine is needed for a week or two and then they are no longer needed, then I say that they were just what the doctor ordered! But unfortunately people often have pains that outlast a week or two. If that is the case, then joint pain might be more than a simple sprain but less than a broken bone. People complain of aches, stiffness, pains, or grinding that seems to have no ending. Unending medicine and recurrent pain sometimes plague people with no real healing of the painful joint. Something must be missing. Something is being overlooked. With this discussion I hope to talk about some of the missing possibilities, some of the overlooked causes of back and knee pain.
Muscles move bones. Muscles hold bones into correct positions. Muscles stabilize joints. And muscles can also, if dysfunctional, pull bones incorrectly and stress joints. When joints are stressed with improper motion or mechanics, eventually pain develops. I often find that with the back and knees some muscles are unusually tight while other muscles are lacking in relative strength. This is like the springs on a two-way swinging door. If both springs are correctly functioning, no matter which way the door is pushed or pulled, the door tends to come back to the proper "closed" position. If someone were to really stretch and damage one spring so that it lost its pull, then the other spring would become relatively stronger. The correctly functioning spring, with no resistance on the other side, would pull the door too much leaving it in an incorrect resting position. If someone were to forcefully push the door with one spring not working well, there is a chance the door would open too far and perhaps hit a wall, damaging something. This is what happens with muscles and joints. Often there is one or more muscles which are under functioning in their pull. When this happens other muscles start pulling too much and this stresses the joint. This may be enough to cause pain in a joint. But it surely will begin to show signs of pain if you try to lift something heavy, bend too far, walk up stairs, or heavily use your knees or back. With some muscles weak and some muscles tight, something is bound to move improperly and an injury or chronic pain will develop. With these muscles dysfunctional it is difficult to properly heal the joint. Joints can and will heal if there is no further irritation, but every time you move on a dysfunctional and unstable joint you further irritate it!
This area of correcting muscle dysfunction is called applied kinesiology. This science is the practical study of how to normalize muscular function and is extremely helpful for people with functional problems in their back or knee muscles. If muscular dysfunction is at the root of back or knee pain, an applied kinesiologist can have a person notice partial to complete relief in as little as 5 minutes! If a muscle has lost size and atrophied then it is weaker than a normally sized muscle. It may take months of strength training and rehabilitation with a physical therapist to regain size and strength. Applied kinesiologists notice that often muscles are normally sized but still functionally weak. If a muscle has full size, full capacity for strength, but is just not fully working, this is the job for applied kinesiology specialist. Come by our office for a demonstration in normal-looking but functionally weak muscles. These muscles can be brought to normal strength levels in just seconds with the correct therapies! Chiropractic care combined with applied kinesiology is an extremely powerful combination for returning function to the back and knees.
If a person is just recently injured with a sprain of some sort, then there are several things to do. Common sense and doctor's orders both say to stay off the foot, knee, or back while it is acutely injured. So sit or lie down and elevate the injured knee or foot. Just lie down with an injured back. Second, put a cool ice-pack on the sprain. When the ice pack becomes warm again pop it back into the freezer to cool down and then bring it out and put it back on. About once an hour for 10 to 15 minutes is a good amount of time for cooling therapy. Never apply heat to a recent injury! This will only make matters worse and increase swelling and pain! The next thing to do is to possibly compress the ankle or knee with a moderate wrapping of elastic bandage, not so tight as to restrict normal circulation, but just enough to discourage swelling. The last thing to consider with a recent sprain is something that will help with the swelling and pain such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Also, digestive enzymes such as bromelain taken on an empty stomach will help to minimize pain and speed healing. After you have done these things, consider visiting our office so that your injury can be looked at, proper nutrition for repairing torn tissues can be prescribed, and applied kinesiology techniques can be implemented to speed return of normal function.
Some back and knee pain may be coming from arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and certain other types of arthritis are basically autoimmune diseases. As such I find that they respond to therapies aimed at correcting autoimmune type problems. Causative factors like infections, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, heavy metal poisons, nutritional imbalances, weak detoxification systems (liver or kidney), adrenal insufficiency, chronic inflammation, and others in various combinations affect rheumatoid arthritis. I find patients with arthritis, as well as other autoimmune diseases such as chron's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, MS, parkinsons disease, Hashimoto's disease, and ITP notice remarkable changes in symptoms when these underlying problems are addressed. We treat many of these patients at our clinic.
Osteoarthritis is more of a wear and tear problem. Muscular function needs to be investigated around the painful joints. Often weak or dysfunctional muscles are not moving or stabilizing the joint correctly, leading to grinding and improper movement of the joint. This, of course, leads to pain, instability, and joint damage. The first step in osteoarthritis is to stabilize the joints so that further damage is prevented. This is done with applied kinesiology care for the muscles, bracing or wrapping the joint if indicated, and repair nutrition aimed at supporting cartilage, connective tissues, and bones.
Repair nutrition for damage to cartilage may include glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, N-acetyl glucosamine, vitamin C, zinc, and adequate protein. Also, adequate amounts of water are necessary for cartilage repair. I recommend at least 8 full glasses of pure water a day. Remember, these repair nutrients are not enough if the joint is physically unstable and continuing to grind or if there is systemic infections and inflammation in the body. Remember that joints can only heal with the right nutrition AND if the underlying structural problems are treated also!
At our clinic we don't just treat symptoms. We try very hard to look at the whole person rather than just a knee or back. Chiropractic problems in the neck, midback, head, or feet can cause problems in the knees and back. An unrecognized infection can be contributing to high levels of inflammation and lowered healing ability in the body. We commonly find that patients recover many times quicker when infections from yeasts or molds, viruses, bacteria, or parasites are treated with the right herbal medicines. High levels of homocysteine have been recently shown to cause inflammation anywhere in the body, especially in areas of connective tissue. Homocysteine, while causing pain can also cause heart damage. Homocysteine needs to be screened for and the proper nutritional medicine prescribed for detoxification of this troublesome chemical. Toxins in the form of pesticides, heavy metals, and chemicals can irritate nerves, cause muscle spasms, lead to a decrease in healing ability, and cause sensations of pain. These need to be screened for in cases of troublesome pain. Food allergies, secondary to leaky gut syndrome, can be a cause of aches and pains in the knees and back! These need to be screened for in difficult cases of back and knee pain.
There have been many patients that have come to our clinic over the years that had pains due to allergies, heavy metal poisoning, muscle spasms, gall bladder irritation, mild pelvic torsions, and other unusual causes. This experience has taught me to treat every patient as unique and worthy of considering ALL possible causes of back or knee pain. That is why we use the whole person approach to caring for injuries and pain. If we did not take this approach there would be many people still in pain that we could have helped.
*Nick- a man in his mid 40's came to my office complaining of extreme low back pain. His pain was enough to make it difficult to stand from a chair, to lie down, or to walk quickly. He hobbled into my office and confessed that he was worried that he might have some sort of cancer causing referring pain in his back. Upon further questioning he told me that 2 of his friends had recently died of cancer and it was on his mind a lot. His history and my examination suggested muscle spasms, a milk allergy, and a torsion of the pelvis. Treatment with acupuncture techniques to calm down his body's reaction to milk, applied kinesiology treatment for his muscles that were imbalanced, and gentle blocking techniques turned him into a new man. He rose from lying down without any grimacing and after stretching told me that he was 99% better! He did not need any further treatments. One office visit was all that it took. This is an excellent example of how a food allergy can have effects on aches and pains. It is worth mentioning that Nick has other aches and pains such as neck spasms and occasional elbow pain if he begins to drink too much milk. I feel that Nick would have spent lots of money and had marginal results if he had gone to a traditional doctor.
*Kelly- a woman in her late 40's came to my office complaining of aches in both knees, especially on the outside of her knees. My screening procedures indicated a simple milk allergy and nothing else. My advice was for Kelly to strictly avoid milk and to return for a checkup in 3 weeks. Kelly returned 3 weeks later convinced that I was right. She strictly avoided milk for 2 ½ weeks and the pain disappeared. After 2 ½ weeks she tried some milk and her pain was right back again in one day. She continues to avoid milk.
*Don- a medical doctor in his late 50's came to my office complaining of intense back pain. He thought that he was a sure candidate for surgery but wanted to try something non-invasive first. He had let this pain develop over a month. He first began to notice the pain in his back after lifting a heavy object by himself. He felt he had ruptured a disc in his back. He was in enough pain that he could not sleep well. Upon examination it was indicated that Don had severely strained his pelvis and sacrum as well as having several imbalanced muscles in his back. Gentle blocking and applied kinesiology work had him feeling 90% better after our initial visit. He had a second visit 2 weeks later that even further corrected the imbalances in his pelvis and sacrum and musculature. He felt good enough that he went skiing with his family for Christmas. And he thought he was going to need surgery...
*Yolanda- Yolanda, an energetic 35 year old woman, had been a patient of mine for several months. She came to my office complaining of knee pains in both knees and she had not had any injuries to her knees. Yolanda had recently had mercury amalgams removed from her teeth. My assessment of her indicated that her body was extremely toxic with heavy metals such as copper, mercury, nickel, etc and that many of these metals were probably irritating the areas around her knees. We supported Yolanda with several amino acids and chelating agents that help to pull toxins out of the body. Yolanda has reported much improvement in her knee pains after this protocol.
*Suzie- Suzie, a woman in her mid 50's, had been a patient of mine for many months. Her primary health concerns were unstable health, unusual sensations of burning in random areas of her body, migrating tingling sensations, unusual headaches, bouts of explosive anger, frequent nosebleeds, aches and pains, rashes that came and went, and frequent bouts of colds and flu. During the course of my seeing her she developed pain in her knees with no indication of injury. My examination indicated a heavy burden of homocysteine in the body, burdens of mercury, nickel, and lead, and muscle imbalances in the knee area. A combination of nutritional support for detoxifying the metals, nutritional support for detoxifying the homocysteine, combined with applied kinesiology treatment for the muscles of the knee helped her body to correct the problems in her knees. She is currently pain free in her knees. It is also worth mentioning that Suzie had her mercury amalgam fillings recently removed. Although this is a highly beneficial procedure it can occasionally cause more problems than it fixes if the person is unable to detoxify well. I believe this was the case for Suzie. Suzie reports that with continued nutritional support her health is stable. She no longer has unusual burning or tingling sensations. Her nose bleeds and rashes have stopped. Her aches and pains have calmed down tremendously and she is almost never sick. I attribute most of these health problems to heavy metal poisoning aggravated by mercury re-exposure during dental surgery. I believe that Suzie would be labeled "hypochondriac" with the standard medical approach and received little, if any, help for her various complaints.
*Sherri- Sherri, a young woman in her late 20's complained of a painful left knee that made grinding and popping noises when it was bent. Examination of her knee and back revealed several bones in her low back that were misaligned and muscles in her back and knee that were imbalanced. Applied kinesiology treatment for the muscles and specific chiropractic adjustments for her low back had her bending her knee with no popping or grinding noises when she stood up after the treatment. Her pain was gone also.
As you can see by my examples, each patient is unique and deserves unique treatment. The whole person approach is especially helpful for patients who have unusual causes of back and knee pain. At our clinic we tend to receive a high percentage of patients who have been "everywhere"in search of pain relief and not found any yet. It is my experience that patients who have difficult to resolve pains need to be screened carefully for muscle imbalances as well as chemical problems. We do this all at our clinic. Please give us a call if you think we might be of assistance!