Our bodies are the key to a happy life, and taking care of our health and wellbeing is important for anyone. Those in Vancouver who visit a chiropractor already understand this, and seeking help for back and neck pain is a key part of improving the way you feel overall. But beyond back pain, there are other joint, bone, and muscle issues that can create big challenges for patients.
Dr. Stuart Killian at Advantage Chiropractic has seen firsthand just how difficult some of these painful conditions can be to deal with. As such, it’s important to take a closer look at a wide range of other issues so you can understand that you’re not alone, and that there are treatment options out there.
A perfect example of a medical issue that can be helped by chiropractic and that confronts millions is patellar subluxation. This condition impacts the kneecap and can be quite painful. It’s important to understand more about the condition in order to fully understand what your treatment options are and how to overcome the issue.
What Is Patellar Subluxation?
Subluxation itself occurs in a wide range of body parts – spine, shoulder, and more. The patella is the kneecap, and patellar subluxation is essentially an instability of the kneecap. It’s easily confused with patellar dislocation, which is an outright dislocation, but instead it is a partial dislocation that can occur frequently.
Despite being somewhat less severe than patellar dislocation, subluxation is a major problem and can be every bit as disabling. Basically, during subluxation the kneecap is dislocated from its normal position temporarily. There is a grooved area in the end of the femur that holds the kneecap in place, and when dislocation of any kind occurs the kneecap is dislodged and creates serious pain.
What Symptoms Are Associated With Patellar Subluxation?
It’s easy enough to say that pain is a major symptom of patellar subluxation, but that doesn’t cover the full range of potential symptoms that will be experienced by those with this problem. Pain certainly occurs, but there are other issues as well including:
- Knee ‘catches’ as you move it, locking itself into place.
- The knee buckles when weight is placed on it, and can no longer support the weight of your body.
- Pain that is worse with activity but that occurs even when you are sitting down
- Swelling around the knee area.
- Creaking, popping, and cracking sounds when the knee is moved – even during regular walking.
- The kneecap essentially slips to one side of the knee itself.
- Stiffness in the knee area that is difficult to continue coping with.
In short, a wide range of different symptoms exist that could be a sign of patellar subluxation. Knee pain in general needs to be addressed quickly, and the points above are among the most common signs that your pain could be more serious than you realize.
What Causes Patellar Subluxation?
The causes of patellar subluxation can vary greatly from patient to patient. The main reason is trauma stemming from the leg being forced straight or over straightened. This can cause the kneecap to move out of the groove in the knee and to one side. Overuse, intense workouts, and damage caused by sports involving jumping or impacts on the knee can also lead to damage that can cause this problem.
However, studies have shown that abnormal structure within the leg such as an underdeveloped inner thigh muscle, an overdeveloped outer thigh muscle, a kneecap sitting higher than normal, or a femur bone that is underdeveloped could all lead to subluxation – even among patients who aren’t physically active. In these cases something as simple as daily activity and walking could lead to patellar subluxation.
Diagnosing The Problem
Diagnosis involves a routine examination from a healthcare provider. They’ll examine the knee, consider symptoms, and will often utilize an x-ray scan to determine potential issues. In particular, these x-rays will look into the development of the lateral femoral condyle to determine whether or not it is properly maintaining the kneecap health. Based upon your symptoms and this exam, a diagnosis can be made.
Treating Patellar Subluxation
The treatment of patellar subluxation can vary widely. In general, surgery is a last resort that is only used when no other treatment options can provide relief. A number of other treatment methods will usually be tried first to help avoid surgery unless absolutely necessary. Some of the potential treatment options that can be used include:
- Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen. This can help reduce swelling of the muscles and move the kneecap back into place.
- Use of a brace to help keep the kneecap in its proper position.
- Using ice packs or other cold therapy for 20 minute intervals in order to reduce pain and swelling.
- Proper rest of the knee to allow it to reset itself to the proper location. This includes raising it on pillows when lying down at home, and limiting use to low-impact activities for several days.
- Use of exercises to help strengthen the muscles, aid in recovery, and prevent future problems from occurring.
It’s also important to modify your lifestyle as needed during the recovery phase. For example, using bicycling instead of running to exercise will reduce the impact placed on your knees and as such can help your knee heal. Steps like this can have a big impact on your knee’s health and stability.
Can Chiropractic Help?
In addition to the steps listed above, seeing a chiropractor may be an option worth considering. Chiropractors are trained not only to help in adjusting subluxations of the spine, but other areas as well. Through their manipulation they can often help adjust the kneecap into proper position, provide additional results to strengthening the muscle, and give you steps that can help you improve your knee health overall.
Patellar subluxation can be incredibly painful and very difficult to live with, but with the right treatment steps it is something that can be managed and overcome, giving yourself back the mobility that you need to live a healthier, happier life.