When Pain in Your Knee is Not Just a Knee Problem

knee painKnee pain is a pretty common complaint but not all knee pain originates at the knee.

My senior client had been living with pain in his left knee for a few years before we met.  Since he was not involved in any activities which particularly stressed the knee, nor had he suffered any physical injury to his knee, I felt the issue might lie somewhere else.

 

After doing a posture and gait check on him, I discovered that he had a muscular imbalance between the right and left sides of his body.  The musculature on his left leg is smaller than his right, and his left arm has a more limited range of movement than his right arm.

 

Such imbalances are often built up over years of lifestyle habits (such as being right-hand dominant), and can also be exacerbated by injury (which may cause us to unconsciously prefer one side over the other).  When left uncorrected, muscular imbalances can lead to persistent weakness or instability on one side; and eventually, pain.

 

In fact, closer observation disclosed that my client was walking with a slight limp – as if his left leg was being dragged along by his right.

 

For the past few months, we have been focussing on strengthening and activating his relatively weaker left side.  To get him to consciously activate his left leg, I get him to count out loud each step that he takes with his left leg, for a total of 300 counts.  To improve the mobility and range of motion in his left hip and leg, he does drills which require him to step over (both forwards and backwards) an obstacle, such as a low railing.  During the clearance, we check to see whether he can raise his left leg to the same extent and height as his right.

 

Progress has been gradual but steady and my client no longer complains about pain in his left knee.  With time and continued practice, strengthening his left knee will also take some of the stress and load off his right leg, and allow him to walk further and faster without strain.