Austin Rolfer: Knee pain

Austin Rolfer: Knee Pain

Knee pain can be pretty debilitating.  It can affect your ability to play sports, walk without a limp, get up out of a chair, or walk up a set of stairs.  If not treated quickly, it can lead a host of issues throughout the rest of your body due to the compensations that take place.  The knee is a pivotal hinge joint, which permits flexion and extension as well as a slight medial and lateral rotation.  This means that you can bend & straighten your leg as well as rotate (ever so slightly).  It’s not designed to move laterally or rotate excessively; these movements should happen at the hip and the ankle.

At my Rolfing office in Austin, TX, I treat a lot of people with knee pain that can come from a multitude of sources.  Some of these sources could be:

  • Lateral knee pain stemming from a too short IT Band
  • Knee cap tracking issues stemming from overdeveloped lateral quads
  • Meniscus issues (pain behind the knee cap) due to a damaged meniscus or tracking issues
  • Medial pain due to an aggravated nerve that originates in the abdomen or an underdeveloped medial quad VMO

The list can go on and on.  My job as a Rolfer is to not only figure out where the pain is showing up, but figure out where it is stemming from.  Some of the questions I might ask myself when reviewing the client’s pain are:

  • Is there enough movement at the ankle
  • Is there enough movement at the hip
  • Is a nerve being aggravated by something going on in the abdomen
  • Is there proper balance between the ligaments on the inside of knee vs. the outside
  • Does the knee cap track straight and if not, why not
  • Is there a nerve or artery that is compressed on the back side of the knee

Again, the list can go on and on.  As a Rolfer looking at knee pain, I try to bring balance back to the tissues surrounding the knee as well as improve mobility of tissues up in the hip and ankle so that there is less strain on the knee to do movements it is not designed to do.  We would also take a look at giving exercises for the client to do at home that might help strengthen muscles that are currently too weak to perform their expected task.  Another item to look at is whether the imbalance is coming from a specific activity (i.e. cycling, running) and whether we should modify the clients form while they are performing the activity.  If we don’t change the behavior that is causing the pain, the imbalance and subsequent pain will continue to come back.

As always, my goal is not only to make the pain go away but to also find and address the source of the imbalance that causes the pain (which is often nowhere near where the pain actually shows up).

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