A Postural Therapist's View on Joint Degeneration & Replacements

Today we have a special guest blog post on hip and knee joint degeneration and replacement sugery by Catee Ingwersen.  Catee is the owner of The Posture Clinic (Vero Beach, FL) and both a Certified Posture Alignment Specialist (Egoscue University) and licensed massage therapist.  

 

Hip and knee joint degeneration and replacement surgery is becoming more and more common place as our baby boomer and (what I like to call) "children of convenience" populations age.

 

Catee does a fantastic job discussing the topic in further detail in this first of two part series.  Enjoy!  

 Joint Replacements & Joint Degeneration

By Catee Ingwersen:  The Posture Clinic

This couldn't be simpler.  Just because a joint is replaced doesn't mean the joint or the body will be pain free and/or functional.  

Think about your car.  If you were riding on the highway and notice your steering wheel vibrating quite a lot, perhaps even shimmying, you would be concerned there is a problem.  Does that mean your steering wheel is broken or needs replacement?  If you had the steering wheel replaced would you have corrected the underlying or root cause of the shimmying problem?  

The point is: a shimmying steering wheel is a symptom and is not the underlying problem in and of itself.  The root cause of the shimmying steering wheel is misaligned unbalanced wheels.  Correct the underlying cause, the misalignment, and you correct the shimmying problem.  This analogy can be applied to joint pain, degeneration, joint replacements and the entire human body. 

 

Knee Replacements


If you have knee pain or have degenerated knees, bone on bone knees, it has nothing to do with old age.  A client said his knee problem "is just old age. It's hell getting old!"  I asked, "does your other knee hurt?"  He replied, "no."  "Then how could your knee pain be caused by old age?" 


What then is the cause of knee pain and degeneration?  Genetics?  How could that be?  Some relatives have knee pain and some don't.  

The knee joint is a HINGE joint.  It operates just like a door hinge.  Do you have hinges that twist?  No, definitely not.  Hinges only operate properly as long as there is no rotation or torquing.  Imagine leaning hard on a cabinet door, chances are good you may bend or damage the hinge.  Does the hinge work smoothly and well after bending or twisting it?

If there is rotation or twisting or torquing IN YOUR KNEE JOINT (which is due to your leg/femur bone rotating inward or outward in gait), there will be impaired function, friction and wear and tear.  Then there will be inflammation, the body's way of attempting to protect the vital inner joint surfaces and structure.  The cartilage will in time be worn away and there may be tears to the meniscus and or bone spurs, another last ditch effort by the body to protect the joint.  

 

Going back to the steering wheel analogy:  

 

Then where does the knee pain come from?  Look in a full length mirror.  

  • Do your feet turn out or in, duck footed or pigeon toed? 
  • Do you knee caps point straight ahead or angle to the sides or towards the other knee?  
  • Has someone told you have a leg length difference?  
  • Is your pelvis elevated on one side?  
  • Is your rear end flat?

 

These are all strong indications that your hip joints are not functioning properly.  

 

The hip joint is analogous to the "handle of the whip."  Let's think about the thigh bone, knee, ankle and foot as the whip or lash.  How and where the handle of the whip moves (the hip joint), the rest of the whip (leg, knee, ankle, foot) will follow.  

 

If you have arthritis, degenerative changes in the knee joint or meniscus, ACL, PCL tears etc. you have a posture (or position) problem caused by muscle imbalances.  The root cause is not a faulty "steering wheel" (see beginning of this article) or faulty knee joint.  You have a faulty hip joint and pelvis function due to muscles not keeping the leg and knee joint straight during use.  

 

If you replace the knee joint - that is not the end of the pain and dysfunction.  Why?  Because you don't have a knee problem, you have a hip problem caused by hip muscles being imbalanced.  You have knee pain but not a knee problem.  And it's very likely back pain is or will soon be part of your life.

 

Don't Settle for Band-Aids on SYMPTOMS - Find & fix the ROOT CAUSE

 

When you are dealing with pain and the possibility of invasive procedures that will not solve the underlying problem, make sure you know exactly what the root cause is.  Keep asking your doctor "why".  Answers like "arthritis" or "Avascular Necrosis" or "torn Meniscus" or "ACL/PCL tear" or "Labral tear" are not Root Causes.  If you are confused by the answer to "why" or aren't sure, it's time to get more information.  

 

Modern medicine is only focused on the body part in pain--the symptom.  Unfortunately seldom is the part in pain the root cause of the pain.  Because the body functions AS A UNIT, just working with the painful part will not address the total underlying problem.