While each part of your body has its own unique function, it also generally relies on other parts of your body to operate at peak performance. Because of this deep connection, when you experience pain in one area, that area might not be the source of pain. A perfect example of this is with your back and knees.
Questions regarding the relationship between knee and back pain arise often. Below are a few of the most common questions that we hear at NW Regen:
1) Are knee pain and back pain related?
They can be. While they are not directly connected per se, your back is the powerhouse that fuels many parts of your body, including the muscles leading to, and around, your knees. The knees and back work collectively to provide your body with the support, motion, balance, and flexibility it needs to function properly. It’s probably no surprise then that when one hurts or is affected in some way, the other does, as well.
2) Can knee pain cause back pain (and vice versa)?
Knees and backs get worn down after years of wear and tear, each bearing the brunt of much of our daily activities. When your knee hurts (for any reason), your other knee and lower back compensate to try to alleviate the discomfort you’re feeling. The same is true when your back is sore or hurting. The back pain can easily throw off your balance and posture, leaving your knees to compensate. In fact, knee pain that is not the result of an acute physical injury often has its roots in the lower back.
In either scenario, when you find ways to adjust your posture to increase your comfort level, you are taking pressure off of one area and simply adding it to another. This increase in pressure (to either the back or the knee) can cause pain in the area that is working harder to alleviate the discomfort in the other.
3) What is the relationship between sciatica or thigh pain and knee pain?
Most often, knee pain that originates in the back stems from the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body. The muscles around the knee are controlled by the nerves in the lower spine. When those nerves, including the sciatic nerve, are compressed, either due to degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis or an injury, such as a herniated disk, it often causes shooting pain or a tingling sensation that travels from your lower back down into your knees (and even into your feet in some instances).
When suffering from sciatica, you may experience a sharp pain or a dull ache in or around your knee (front, back, or side). You may not be able to bear weight on that leg or may have the feeling that your knee is buckling when you try to stand. You may also have difficulty extending your leg straight out.
Sciatica can affect the knees in other ways, as well. For example, sciatica can cause tightness in the hamstrings. When these muscles in the back of your thigh are taught, the stability in your lower back decreases, causing additional pressure on your knees.
Medicine is constantly evolving, working toward a far less painful future. Through this discovery, we are uncovering less invasive ways to treat our aches and pains by locating the root causes of them. That is where interventional orthopedic and orthobiologic medicine comes in, alleviating a variety of conditions, including knee pain, without surgery or drugs.
At NW Regen, we have a deep foundational understanding of root cause-based therapies, allowing us to modify our procedures based on the scientific advances that are continuously occurring. Our goal is to provide the best, most informed options to underlying issues, not just symptoms. Having the ability to effectively perform regenerative, non-surgical treatments is a significant part of our tailored approach to healthy, whole-body healing. Contact us for a free consultation.
Dr. Ryan Wood is a licensed Naturopathic and Chiropractic physician focusing on interventional orthopedic and orthobiologic medicine and injection therapies as well as general musculoskeletal and non-surgical orthopedic medicine.
With almost two decades of orthopedic practice across multiple disciplines, he has the necessary experience to ensure proper diagnoses and management of complex cases.