Although most people immediately think of back or neck pain when they hear the word “chiropractor,” DCs can help with a variety of other issues and conditions. Likewise, DCs deal with more than bones, too.
The tissues that connect bones and the muscles that support them are important in chiropractic care. The knee is an example of a complex joint that people are increasingly finding responds well to chiropractic adjustments. The use of instruments in treating knee pain may lead to improved patient outcomes.
Two knee-related problems that many DCs treat are runner’s knee and knee osteoarthritis (KOA). Both conditions require treatment of the soft tissue surrounding the joint. In addition to treating the soft tissues, all conditions of the knee call for caution and low force adjustments. The complexity of the joint, as well as the fact that healthy knee function contributes to a high quality of life, make a conservative treatment plan optimal.
People who are suffering with knee pain may try several treatment options before arriving in the chiropractic office. Stretching, pharmaceutical pain relievers, and physical therapy are all commonly used as firstline treatments for multiple knee conditions.
Chiropractic treatment is a valuable treatment option for many patients. If all of the bones making up the knee joint are properly positioned, the next step for most DCs will be to treat the soft tissue surrounding and supporting the joint, and this is where instruments may come into play.
The phrase “instrument adjusting” covers a wide range of techniques, from spring-loaded mechanical instruments to much more complex computerized instruments. For IT band issues, as well as many other problems involving the soft tissues surrounding the knee, instrument-assisted soft tissue
mobilization (IASTM) is often the best treatment option.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says: “Though doctors of chiropractic (DCs) have always used their hands to increase blood flow and break up restrictions in injured soft tissue, fingers alone can’t detect restrictions at deeper levels or treat the full range of restrictions. Because of this, several companies have now developed handheld tools to perform instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization.”
People who suffer from iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), which is commonly known as runner’s knee, feel pain in their knees. However, that pain is most often caused by tightness in the tensor fascia lata (TFL). The TFL and the IT band are one long, continuous muscle. The upper part that connects to the outer hip is the TFL, and the lower part that connects to the outer knee is the IT band. When the TFL is tight, it causes the IT band to stretch and then there is pain. A study published by Indiana University found that instruments can help reduce restrictions, adhesions, and other barriers to proper movement in the TFL.
Patients diagnosed with KOA face a radically different situation. KOA is a degenerative disease, for which there is no cure.1 However, chiropractic care can provide some relief from the symptoms and contribute to a higher quality of life for patients. The ACA suggests that “adjustive therapies to restore knee flexion and extension.” IASTM can help DCs remove any restrictions that block mobilization.Healthy function of the knee contributes to an active lifestyle, and instrument adjusting can help DCs provide patients with relief from pain, as well as maintain healthy joint function to avoid future pain.
Smuts J. “The Effect of Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization on Iliotibial Band Extensibility and Hip Abduction Strength.” Indiana University.
https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/17220. Published July 2013. Accessed August 2014.