Dr. Matthew Gianforte
KNEE PAIN DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY
Pain of any kind can truly change your life. It affects all areas of you, including your mind and emotions, more than we give it credit for. Because pain is so common these days, there are constant fixes, solutions or remedies that people try for any level of pain management. At LifeWorks Integrative Health, we address a lot of different types of pain but we are always looking beyond the symptoms to what is causing the pain. We are looking for healing solutions, not cover up solutions.
Knee pain is an area where we continue to see movement, life, energy, and resilience return to our amazing patients as the underlying imbalance causing the pain is addressed and corrected. We’ve got a different approach than holding off surgery for as long a possible through pain medications. Why not avoid surgery altogether and be pain-free? Brilliant? We agree! Let’s dig in a bit to what’s going on with this knee pain situation. Most knee pain is caused from the cartilage wearing away between the femur and tibia (thigh and shin bones). Now where many doctors are remiss is in not looking for why the cartilage is wearing down. Cartilage in one area of the body doesn’t just begin to disappear with aging, while cartilage in all the other areas of the body remains stable. It just doesn’t work that way. We wrote a bit more about that here related to back pain, but the same principles apply. Cartilage degeneration is caused by a functional imbalance (the body not moving in the right way) and inflammation.
Knees and Hyaluronan
Hyaluronan is a component of synovial fluid (the stuff between our joints). It’s found in all bones, connective tissue, tendons and cartilage. Hyaluronan buffers bones and prevents wear and tear. Although our body produces it, when there is a functional imbalance causing the knee cartilage to deteriorate, additional hyaluronan can be used to lubricate the area and reduce or eliminate pain. It’s been found to be very helpful in degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. It has the capacity to hold large volumes of water to give moisture and structure to the areas between bones which is what is being lost when knee pain occurs. This means it can work better than the commonly used glucosamine supplements, or be a good addition to them. There are non-surgical options for knee pain management. The common path of anti-inflammatory medications followed by surgery never corrects any of the underlying issues and even adds additional health risks when you factor in the side effects of anti-inflammatory medications. Non-surgical options like this can be the right fit for many people when they know about them. Not everyone needs knee surgery and there’s even evidence emerging that surgical intervention for meniscus issues can possibly make it worse.
Research has linked higher levels of hyaluronan to increased protection from: Free radical damage, arthritis, chondrocytes (which increase inflammation), cancer, lung injury, abnormal immune regulation and eye disorders. This seemingly benign joint lubricant is actually a powerful substance in our body. It can be a very useful tool in minimizing or eliminating pain in joints by using it as an injection to the pain site.
Anytime there is pain, systemic inflammation needs to be considered. If the body is experiencing inflammation at a systemic level, then it will intensify pain. We’ve seen plenty of patients who through low inflammatory diet changes and well designed supplement regimens see significant decrease in pain of joints and muscles, even when there is still a cartilage degenerative issue occurring that would also benefit from something like hyaluronic acid. Understanding why the pain is there in the first place is just as important as finding a pain management solution. At LifeWorks Integrative Medicine, we always ask, “Why?” and can offer you or your loved ones non-surgical options for knee pain. Give us a call today.