Knee and leg pain is extremely common; it is responsible for more than 1/3 of all doctor's visits for muscle and bone pain. Pain in the knees and legs can occur as a result of conditions that affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves. Typically, the pain is a result of chronic tissue inflammation caused by repetitive injury and metabolic dysfunction or disease. Since the knee and leg contains a number of structures and tissue types, a variety of conditions can cause pain that does not go away. Most chronic knee and leg pain results from wear and tear and overuse of muscles, ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues. Leg pain can also come from problems in your low back which must be properly diagnosed. A commonly missed cause of knee pain is referral pain from the hip joint. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins, poor circulation or disease of the peripheral nerves called neuropathy.
To be properly treated and overcome the challenge of knee and leg pain you must have begun with a comprehensive neurological, orthopedic, myofascial and vascular examination. I've seen many individuals with knee and leg pain that were not properly diagnosed from the beginning. Without a proper workup to find the underlying cause, it is impossible to correct the condition with properly applied rehabilitation.
Past the age of 40 one of the most common causes of knee pain is osteoarthritis. It is the most common type of osteoarthritis and affects more than 10 million Americans. Knee osteoarthritis is also the most common cause of disability in the United States. It causes gradual breakdown of the hyaline cartilage that covers the joint surfaces of the bones in the knee joint. There are no pain receptors in these cartilage joint surfaces, therefore, you are not aware of the destruction until inflammation builds up in the surrounding soft tissues of the knee joint, primarily the synovium or joint capsule. Early diagnosis and proper treatment can help save you from knee replacement surgery.
Along with inflammation in the joint capsule the surrounding muscles of the knee and the leg are a major source of lower extremity chronic pain. Most knee pain is myofascial in origin. There are over a dozen muscles that can cause knee pain and leg pain; they must be examined and properly treated. The primary muscles involved in knee pain are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the abductors. These muscles can harbor pain-causing myofascial trigger points or muscle knots that must be properly released. Along with myofascial trigger point therapy traditional Chinese acupuncture is extremely effective in the reducing knee and leg pain and improving function. There are now numerous well designed medical studies that have found traditional Chinese acupuncture to be effective in rehabilitation of knee osteoarthritis.
In clinical practice I have found that it is vital to provide the healing soft tissues with proper nutritional and metabolic support while activating repair through traditional Chinese acupuncture and myofascial therapy. There are natural substances that can provide cartilage with building blocks to repair itself such as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin. Along with this there are specific herbs that can help reduce the inflammation within the joint capsules and myofascial tissue allowing for pain reduction and healing. The most studied and effective herbs have been shown to be ginger and Curcumin root extracts along with Boswellia and other botanicals. They work best in specific combinations to reduce the inflammation while stimulating repair with traditional Chinese acupuncture.
About Dr. Greg Fors
Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post-graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.