Knee pain is not the end: It could be originating from your Pelvis, Hip or Lumbar Spine

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March 21, 2016

If your Hip, Pelvis and Lumbar spine are not working properly, it is impossible for your knee to function normally and absorb pressure during gait. This is because when we step, our foot transmits forces into our knee, which then transmits into our hip, pelvis, lumbar spine and so forth. This is known as shock absorption, and functions by redistributing pressure among joints that have healthy movement, with support from muscles that are adequately strengthened and supple. 

For instance, if your lower back is affected (pain is often not a symptom) and is due to left Sacro-Iliac hypomobililty (stiffness), then you will have reduced movement along that joint plane and the surrounding muscles will tighten. There will be a reduction in the ability of this joint and the surrounding soft tissue to absorb forces from the knee and ankle, forcing the knee to absorb the majority of the force that would typically be transmitted up the kinetic chain into the pelvis and hip. This may result in short-term strain or long-term osteoarthritis, as the forces have been altered and misproportioned along the normal plane of knee articulation (where the tibia and femur meet). 

Over time, many individuals start to notice knee pain, often without a specific injury or history of a known knee dysfunction. The knee joint itself is rather simple, but as a consequence of its location (midway between the hip and foot), it takes the brunt of any errors along the lower extremity and lower back/pelvic regions, this is experienced as stiffness and misalignments in our spine and extremities. 

The most important muscles involved in this process are the gluteals. These stabilize the hip and pelvis, allowing them to adequately absorb force that would otherwise be taken up by the knee. This limits acute and chronic injury and reduces pain in the knee. This is accomplished through specific, guided physical therapy during exercises such as clamshell, abduction, extension and stabilizing exercises prescribed by your doctor. If done incorrectly, you can activate the wrong muscle groups and create increased hypertonicity (tightness) and inflammation in the hamstrings, hip flexors and IT band that can create wide-spread discomfort and compensation, further complicating your knee injury. 

That's the explanation, but here's the good news, this can be treated! At Portland Chiropractic Neurology, we are trained above and beyond in orthopedics and physical therapy, attending numerous post-doctoral educational courses in Functional Neurological Orthopedic Rehabilitation. This allows us to combine the appropriate Chiropractic, Neurological and Physical Therapy to fully restore function. We are located at 959 Congress street in Portland, Maine 04102. Please contact us for more information at or 207-699-5600.