Physical Therapy

Helping muscles heal

physical therapy SOMA Pain Management ChicagoPhysical therapy can relieve pain and muscle stiffness. It also promotes healing and restores your previous function and movement. Therapists teach you relaxation, stretching and strengthening exercises. When combined with massage and acupuncture, you can get relief from deep muscle pain and improve your range of motion. At SOMA, we believe that physical therapy not only helps you after an injury, but can also help prevent future injuries by increasing your muscle strength.

Knee Pain and Myofascial Treatment

Today we are going to address one of the most common complaints that our office sees on a daily basis: knee joint pain. The knee is a complex joint and it affects a broad spectrum of the population from young athletes to the elderly. When it comes to finding cause or contributing factors for your knee pain, some questions need to be addressed initially. Specifically where on your knee do you feel pain? What activities do you do on a daily basis? Are you involved in sports? Do you run or jog daily? What type of job do you do, and does it involve pressure to your knees? Do you have an old injury that involved your knee? Does the knee hurt going up or down stairs? Have you had prior surgeries or repairs to your knee? Is it swollen or feel hot? Did the pain come on gradually or suddenly? Do you remember the action that triggered the pain? All these questions help point clinicians in the right direction to start finding the reasons that may have triggered the pain. In general, after ruling out more serious knee problems by physical exam, a diagnosis is usually given and treatment may initially consist of over the counter anti-inflammatories, then perhaps physical therapy and if that does not help maybe a steroid injection in the joint is prescribed. This may help for a short while, or even longer but it may not be addressing the entire problem. Then it becomes important to start looking elsewhere for what may be contributing to your knee pain.

I find that most knee pain we see can be addressed and pain reduced significantly by our “medical acupuncture” techniques and homeopathic injections. Why? Because most knee pain is myofascial in origin. The term “myofascial” refers to the muscles and their thin outer membranes. Medical acupuncture, which focuses on releasing contracted muscles has a direct effect on the myofascia, thereby relaxing the muscles. To explain this we need to understand some key muscles that surround and dynamically affect the knee.

There are many specific muscles that affect the knee joint and its mobility, but we will only address one of the larger muscles groups as to explain the type of treatment we do. The quadriceps muscle, which is named for its “four-heads” originates in four separate areas and extends down within these separate divisions to eventually come together to form the powerful quadriceps tendon, which attaches to your shin just below the kneecap where you may feel a prominent bump. When it comes to knee pain, if these four muscles are contracted or shortened, they have a unique pain pattern that can affect the knee causing pain. Sometimes using the term “muscle spasm” may help you understand better what is happening to cause these muscles to tighten or loose their flexibility and elasticity. If you understand this relationship between the knee and the muscles that attach to it, you will start to understand how they can cause problems. When these muscles are in spasm or shortened, they will pull on what they are attached to which in the majority of the time is your kneecap and areas surrounding the joint. As an example, when your kneecap becomes gradually misaligned due to shortened muscles that are attached to it, it will cause an irritation and subsequent inflammation to the knee and its surrounding ligaments and tendons. This is sometimes called a Patellar Tracking Disorder, yet where did the problem start? In the muscles; so as you see, knee pain can ultimately be more of a muscle problem than a knee problem.

When examining the quadriceps muscles it is immediately evident per clinician and patient where these shortened muscle “spots” are due to their tenderness felt with palpation. These hyperirritable spots within a contracted muscle are what we refer to as trigger points. With our medical acupuncture treatment and homeopathic injections we release these trigger points and this releases the contracted muscle, decreases inflammation, and therefore pain in the knee. After these muscles are adequately released, the strain that was once pulling on the kneecap and other structures surrounding the knee are gone, balance in and around the joint can be restored and pain subsides.

Although it is difficult to sometimes avoid the unexpected jolts and traumas to our knees, it is always best to try and avoid them when possible. To avoid knee problems and potential painful situations there are few important tips to be aware of. Stay strong. This means stretching and strengthening your quadriceps muscles (as well as all the other muscles in your legs and body). This includes warming up properly before exercising as well as exercising regularly. Vary the exercises you do. Cross training will implement a variety of activities to strengthen the muscles of the leg. (However add activities and new exercises cautiously.) Be sure movements are gentle on the knee and proper techniques are followed. Avoid risky activities, especially if you have any prior knee injuries or surgery. Wear good quality shoes. Walking and running shoes should be changed after 500 miles of use, or in six to nine months. Lose weight. Excess weight accelerates existing problems due to extra pressure on the knees. Example: If you lose just two pounds, the knee senses less force and “thinks” you have lost ten pounds!

If you have knee pain and have tried multiple approaches to resolve it with minimal or no success, why not look into trying medical acupuncture and our other approaches as the potential answer for knee pain relief.

Questions? Contact Dr. Mark Sobor at: drsobor@somamedchicago.com.