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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Is Lower Back Pain Linked to Knee Pain?

runner suffering from knee pain and back pan

Your body has a unique set of functions, and each part relies on the others to perform at its best. When our body works well, we feel invincible, but when we stop exercising due to injury or illness, our ability to function wholly becomes difficult. This is why lower back problems can cause pain in the knees even if it is not caused by physical injury. The muscles of the knee are driven by nerves emanating from the lower spine, and this causes symptoms commonly known as sciatica, which can include knee pain. The same is true of many interacting body parts, and one of these is that back pain causes knee pain. While the back and knee are not directly connected, there is a very real connection that can explain why the knee hurts when you have back pain.

The Link Between The Knee and Back

The knee and back together offer flexibility, movement, and support, but are also interdependent to maintain balance. As one of the most complex joints in the body, the knee allows the entire leg to move, bend and have a good range of motion. At the same time, your back has countless responsibilities: it holds your spine together, absorbs the intervertebral discs, and ensures the correct alignment of your spine, spinal cord, and joints for better balance.

The Link Between the Sciatic Nerve

The back and knees are the real workhorses of the body, and when time takes its toll, the back can become painful and sore. There are nerves in the back that drive the muscles of the knee, and patients do not usually perceive minor nerve irritation as back or leg pain. Therefore, problems with the nerves in the back can affect the function of these muscles and cause pain in the knees.

sciatica nerve pain

When the back hurts, the knee can also hurt, and the most common back pain that causes pain in the knee is associated with the sciatic nerve. It is a long, large nerve that runs through the body, and when it is damaged, it can cause paralyzing pain.

Sciatica is often caused by a condition affecting the lower back, but the underlying disease can also affect other parts of the body, such as the hips, knees, ankles, feet, and legs. In sciatica, knee pain typically does not affect both the knees together, and the pain almost always affects one leg at a time.

While knee pain is a sciatic symptom, pain in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet can behave similarly. If you have back pain and feel a shooting sensation coming from your lower back and running down your leg to your knees, then it may be your sciatic nerve that is to blame. A damaged sciatic nerve can cause a tingling sensation that spreads to the back, hip, buttocks, knees, and feet.

This disease is called sciatica and is often the result of a herniated disc. When this part of the spine puts pressure on the sciatic nerves, the pain in the knee and back increases. This, in turn, can cause pain and stiffness. The problem is that this takes the pressure off the back and puts pressure on the knees and other parts of the body. If that is the case, expect knee pain. But, years of wear and tear on an achy back can throw your gait out of proportion and force your knees to bear the brunt of your work. To balance a painful back, you can find a way to adjust your posture to reduce pressure.

Chronic Knee and Back Pain

As we have seen in research studies, an unacceptably high percentage of patients suffer from chronic pain, and it is important to understand that pain is not necessarily the problem but a symptom of a problem. Failure to identify the cause of pain could lead to unnecessary knee replacements that do not really address the causes of pain.

Given the importance of nailing down the actual source of the pain, you need to know if it stems from your back. If you have acute or chronic knee pain, look for other pain or discomfort that accompanies it. The affected areas may seem completely independent, but they can trigger mutually, causing pain that only leads to the muscles failing and destroying the otherwise necessary protection of the knees and joints.

Signs Your Back Is Causing Your Knee Pain

If you sit a lot and have back and knee pain, it is possible that your knee pain is due to your back’s condition. It is, therefore, easy to see how a bulging lumbar disc or lack of movement in the spine can lead to pain from the nerve branches in the knees. If you don't get up and move as much as you should, sitting down for long periods of time can increase the pain.

man at gym with knee pain and back pain

If your joints become tense, painful, or inflamed, this affects the function of your knee joints. It could be very mild but should not be devalued. It can be just a little tense and tight and cause pain in the back. You can make adjustments and move in a way that compensates for the strain on your Achilles' tendons. Sometimes the pain caused by the tension of the hamstrings does not disappear even after repeated stretching. This nerve acts directly on the knees and is the driving force behind joint pain. After a few weeks of tightness in the Achilles tendons, you will begin to suffer from a meniscus, and the swelling will continue until the cause is identified. Your body will try to repair the meniscus by mobilizing its cells, such as the adrenal glands, blood vessels, and even the bone marrow.

You may wonder what this union has to do with your back, but it can be a direct result of a back problem. The L5 spinal nerve goes to the muscles that support the outside of the foot when you walk or stand, while the S1 spinal nerve goes to the muscles that support the inside of the foot.

When these nerves are strained or injured, they can no longer do their job, which leads to knee pain along with a combination of back problems. If there is a problem with your back, this can cause your stabilizing muscles in your feet to become weak, and tilting the toe joint can cause bone spurs, joint pain, and back pain. Weak muscles can also lead to bunions, which is also another sign that the back is to blame for your knee pain.

How Can a Chiropractor Help?

A chiropractor is a musculoskeletal specialist who can help you treat both types of pain. They are experts who can help you with back and knee pain and help you with other conditions too, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or joint inflammation. With tailor-made rehab techniques, a chiropractor can help relieve pain and restore good bodily functions in a short time.

A chiropractor recognizes how painful parts of the body correspond to the spine, and when these muscles are really tense, they pull forward, causing tension in the pelvis. When the meniscus starts to grind away, it takes up the pressure and causes knee pain. When your lower back is really tense, this muscle is pulled forward, creating pressure in your pelvis, which is now being pressed into your knee.

Visit a Chiropractor

When figuring out the connection between your knee pain and back pain, it is important to determine its source. If it is a back problem that causes your knee pain, you can seek treatments to find relief. Some knee pain relief solutions may provide temporary relief; it is crucial to get to the root of the problem for a long-lasting solution. Most knee treatment takes the pressure off the knee, and the knee treatment protocols help distribute this tension to the rest of the body, relieving knee pain. But, if the treatment is only aimed at strengthening the leg muscles, it does not take into account what is actually going on in your body and what caused the pain in the first place.

If you start strengthening your legs to combat knee pain, you are only reinforcing an already dysfunctional tension pattern that makes your knees ache. Seek a Chiropractor at Natural Care Chiropractic Care who can assess the pain and the underlying symptoms of your condition to find the most effective treatment options to treat your pain while promoting long-lasting pain relief.

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