Knee Replacement Surgery Doesn't Always Eliminate Knee Pain

Knee Replacement Surgery Doesn't Always Eliminate Knee Pain

In March 2012 Scientific American posted a blog called Knee Replacements on Shaky Scientific Ground.

Pointing to the rapidly aging population and rise of obesity rates attributed to increased diagnoss of arthritis of the knee.

It is estimated that almost 50 million people across the U.S. suffering from chronic joint pain stemming from arthritis related problems.  In 2008, over 650,000 total knee replacements were performed.


Key highlights:

  1. Knee implants have not yet proved long-term efficacy and safety
  2. "there simply isn't enough data to be sure that implants - especially new designs - provide the most pain relief and hold up well to wear and tear" (Andrew Carr -University of Oxford Department of Orthopedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences) 
  3. researchers caution that even though doctors and patients often expect that the latest technologies will automatically be better, it is not always the case
  4. because any surgical procedure carries risks, the goal for individuals as well as societies should be to develop ways to avoid the need for knee replacements in the first place (Katherine Harmon)

As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I completely agree!  


The primary goal should first and foremost be to develop ways to avoid knee replacements in the first place and that's exactly what we aim to do here at Pain Free Posture MN.


The knee gets blamed for all sorts of pain and problems in and around the area.  


Each one of our joints has a specific design and function.  When you understand the concept of anatomical "blue-print" design, it is easy to see how pain and function problems can easily show up in the knee.  The knee itself is a hinge- joint which is designed to respond to the muscles and actions of the ankles and lumbo-pelvic girdle.


If your body is out of balance, those amazing knees (or any other body part for that matter) can and take the brute load of misaligned forces from other areas of the body. In the case of the knee, simply addressing problems in the knee joint without assessing and correcting the joint dysfunctions and muscular imbalances in the ankle and hips specifically, you can be sure, pain and problems will return.  


In a now defunct blog called Degenerative Knee and Cartilage Damage x-Rays Before and After Egoscue, former Clinic Director of Egoscue Portland Matt Whitehead writes: 


"When people hear bone-on-bone” (knee, hip, wrist, ankle etc.) most people (including well-meaning doctors) think “it’s too late to do anything, time for a replacement.” This line of thinking comes from the idea that our bodies are like machines. “When your cars’ brakes are worn-out you need to replace the brake pads with new ones and then your car is back to normal.”

There are two problems with this line of thinking:

  1. We have yet to (and probably never will) “build” a replacement part that is close to as good as the original part (but medical science will never stop trying)
  2. Machines are dead and our bodies are living – meaning we are able to rebuild our own parts at the rate of 500+ billion new cells a day!

When not replaced, the worn-out brake pad on your car will continue to wear away every day because the car does not have a means to repair/rebuild it on it’s own. But our bodies do! Our bodies are constantly repairing and rebuilding everything from our skin (we have all seen this happen after a cut or scrap) to our bones (observed in people who have healed a broken bone or raised their bone density) to muscle tissue, brain cells, nerve cells, cardiac muscle, and even cartilage. The key to getting that “bone-on-bone” joint to repair itself is to make sure the reason why the joint was wearing away in the first place is corrected. That has to do with the postural position of the joint and thedysfunctional movement that has been happening. Correct that and the body will repair itself.

When it comes to knee pain and associated problems around the area, we'll look at the current position your knee relative to "blue-print" design.  From there we'll partener with you to come up with a plan to restore the correct motor patterns and muscle-length tension relationships of all the muscles that act on the knee, and how they interact with all the other load joints of the body.  


The body can heal itself, if given just half a chance.  So remember, if you are treating knee pain simply at the site of the problem and you can't figure out why the pain or surgery doesn't make the problem go away (knee pain), please consider that the pain is merely a symptom of the root cause (ankles, and/or lumbo-pelvic girdle dysfunction).


And when you balance the body, you relieve the pain.  Please reach out to let us know how we can help!