The truth is, that we live in a society that’s obsessed with quick-fixes. This has led to short-sighted medicinal solutions to knee pain, that simply fail to address the root cause of the issue. The “if it hurts, cut it out” mentality that has been used to address knee pain is one of these quick-fixes.
There are enough people out there who are ok with taking pills, or waiting until surgery, that doctors and insurance companies have shifted towards this model. As a result, it’s difficult for active people who want real solutions to find good help.
When living an active life is important to you, it can be gut-wrenching to have a doctor look you in the eyes and tell you to stop doing what you love. It can feel like a big part of your life has just fallen away. That’s why it’s important to find a doctor who is on-board with you helping you live the best life you can.
Most people dealing with knee pain want to know one thing…
“Why has it gone from “slightly bothersome” to now “always in the back of my mind?”
Knee pain tends to come on gradually like it did for one of our clients, Ken who moved to Arizona with his wife and two kids to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. He likes to spend his weekends hiking, backpacking, and biking. At first he only had knee pain if he hiked a certain distance, or bent down to pick something up in a funny way. So he did what most of us do, he hiked a shorter distance, and stopped picking things up in funny ways.
Has knee pain started limiting your activity as well?
After all, that’s what many people are taught growing up. If it hurts, back off a little bit, and it should heal over time. But that’s not what happened to Ken. Soon even the shorter distances were hurting, and he would start to get random ZAPS of pain while simply walking.
He began to get frustrated. The pain wasn’t exactly unbearable, but it was unpredictable. He couldn’t really tell when it was going to happen, so he found himself gradually limiting his activities. He started looking for easier hikes, but they just weren’t as satisfying. He even went through a couple of pairs of new hiking shoes, and tried wearing various knee braces.
Ken was hesitant to go to the doctor because he had heard stories from his friends about knee surgeries they had done. Sometimes these surgeries seemed to help, at other times they didn’t. After watching his dad go through a knee replacement, he wasn’t too keen on the idea. Ken confessed that because he’d always been more active, the thought of surgery scared him.
Today, Ken is back to hiking, biking, and backpacking and he sends us pictures of his adventures. He avoided surgery, and doesn’t have to wear a brace. Here’s how he did it.
At first, he tried what most people try. Here are some of the things Ken tried:
- He tried taking NSAIDs for a week or two.
- He looked up stretches on google
- Wore a brace.
- Got a massage.
- Used a foam roller.
- Changed shoes.
- Became less active.
Eventually he became fed up. Without being able to be active he was noticing more problems. His stress level was increasing, he wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep, and he was less productive at work.
He gave in and went to his MD. They ran some x-rays and confirmed his worst fear. “You have some arthritis.” Immediately Ken’s mind jumped to his dad and the long recovery from his knee replacement. Even now, years later, his dad has difficulty getting around.
His doctor had told him it wasn’t bad enough to need surgery yet, but that it may come to that eventually. What’s more, is the doctor told him that things like hiking and backpacking would cause further damage to the knee.
Ken asked the doctor “What can I do to prevent it?” and was disappointed by the response of “Well Ken, you’re getting older now…” Ken wasn’t having it. He hit the internet again searching for an alternative approach.
When he found us, he wanted to know two things.
“What’s causing my knee pain, and what can I do to get back to my active lifestyle without risking surgery down the road?”
Our Scottsdale knee pain physical therapy team was happy to show Ken the process for how knee pain gets solved for good.
While many providers focus on one area, a joint, a muscle, a ligament, and simply try to relieve pain, what most people need is a provider that will approach your case as a whole. They should take everything into account when diagnosing what the root cause of your limitations are, and what to do about them.
There are 3 things that are necessary, in order to get you, and people like Ken, off the sidelines and back into an active life.
Accurate diagnosis of the ROOT CAUSE of your pain. Where your symptoms are, is often the result of a deeper problem. You will be amazed at learning how powerful treating the root cause can be. Not only will your pain go away, but you may find yourself feeling stronger than you have felt in years.
When it comes to the knee, this often means that our Scottsdale knee pain physical therapy team takes a detailed look at the hip, foot, and ankle as well.
A comprehensive STRATEGY to get you from point A to point B (Point B is your goal lifestyle). There are many pieces to an injury. Tight muscles, sprained ligaments, weakness, stiff joints…There is no one size fits all, and a strategy is needed to address each individual component of your condition, while fixing the root cause.
Take frequent measurements. After all, the proof is in the pudding. Measurements allow a provider to determine how you are responding to treatment. This is more than just a “Hey, are you feeling better, or worse? Scale of 1-10?” situation. Taking real measurements of your range of motion, strength, and movement patterns on a regular basis is necessary. When a provider has a STRATEGY, when the measurements are not meeting expectations it allows them to figure out why & change direction.
“How Do I know If I’ve Received a Quick-Fix for Knee Pain?”
- You have gone to the MD, who prescribed some medications, and asked you to come back if they didn’t work.
- You have been given surgery as your only option. Unless you’ve had a major accident or event this typically is not the case.
- You have been getting massages to manage your aching muscles, but they seem to just tighten right back up.
- You have been to physical therapy, and the exercises they gave help a little, but you have to do them all day long to feel any better.
- You have been to any doctor, and they have only focused on the area of pain, and not what the other areas of your body are doing.
“How Do I know If I’ve Found The Root Cause?”
It’s important to know that the “diagnosis” or the injured area, is very rarely the actual ROOT CAUSE of your pain. Everything in your body works together in a cause-effect relationship.
When it comes to the knee, the root cause typically stems from what’s happening at the hip or the foot and ankle. The knee is a victim, caught in between two of the most dynamic parts of your body. When something goes wrong at the foot, ankle, or hip, the knee is often the joint that picks up the slack.
Some surgeons will look at this injury and want to cut into your knee to cut out the meniscus. But what about the issues that caused it to be painful in the first place? Once you take out the meniscus it makes things like knee replacements much more likely down the road, especially if you still leave the hip, foot, and ankle un-fixed.
When you do find the root cause, the doctor will be able to explain to you exactly what’s wrong, and all of the components that are contributing to your injury. When it comes to your knee, this could mean tight muscles, weak muscles, poor movements, bad daily habits, or any number of other issues. It’s important to have a complete understanding of your knee pain before a strategy can be developed.
STOP and re-read that last sentence. In case you zoned out I’ll repeat it… “It’s important to have a complete understanding of your knee pain before a strategy can be developed.” Notice that I use the word “STRATEGY.” Because that’s what you need to fix the root cause of knee pain. You can’t just look at the thing causing you pain and let the treatment stop there. Unless of course you want to be in the same boat 6 months from now.
7 Reasons Knee Pain Lasts Longer Than It Should
- You rely mainly on word of mouth, and you’ve run out of places to go.
- You’ve gotten so much advice, you’re paralyzed by your options, so you’ve done nothing.
- You’ve been burned in the past, and you don’t want to waste time again by choosing the wrong option, so you’re doing a lot of research.
- Your knee pain used to go away on its own, so you’ve been waiting.
- You looked up exercises to do on YouTube, but they only helped a little.
- You’re currently getting care, and the provider is insisting that you just keep being patient and eventually it will work (without good explanation as to why). You’re staying with them a little longer because they’re “nice.”
- You’ve had physical therapy in the past, so you’ve tried the same exercises, but it’s not working this time.
What Can I Do About My Knee Pain Right Now?
- The best thing that you can do is decide to get help from an expert. With all the options out there, it’s difficult to find someone reliable who you can trust. Which is why we offer a non-committal Discovery Visit option. You can see more below.
- Whatever you do, keep moving. Don’t let things stiffen up and get worse.
- Stay hydrated. Especially in Phoenix during the hotter months of the year. We need about ½ our body weight in ounces each day. Add 10% if you’re active. This helps your muscles get circulation, which helps them heal.
- Try your best to avoid crossing your legs, and if you sleep on your side put a pillow between your knees.
- Request A Copy of our Free Report: 5 Powerful Tips To Get Rid of Knee Pain Without Risking Surgery or Wearing a Brace. Inside you’ll find things you can apply immediately, today, before you even finish reading this page.
- Watch the video above to hear from Dr. Tom to help you make a decision about what to do about your knee pain.