Resolving Knee Pain with Active Release Techniques
A painful knee can prevent you from enjoying your favorite things, such as walking, running, playing golf, or gardening. There are many instances where knee pain can even interfere with walking, climbing stairs, or even a good nights sleep. To make matters worse, many common knee conditions are slow to respond to traditional types of treatment.
Now for the good news…..
A new treatment technique known as Active Release Techniques (ART) is proving to be a very effective method to treat many common knee problems and is helping to get knee pain sufferers back doing their favorite activities. In this article we will briefly review the causes of knee pain, then discuss what ART treatment is and why it is so effective in treating common knee problems.
How Does Knee Pain Occur?
Knee injuries occur through one simple principle, the stress placed on the knee exceeds the capacity limit of the joint. This seems logical to most people when thinking about traumatic injuries such as ACL tears or knee dislocations. But what most people don’t realize is that the damaging and excessive loads do not have to happen all at once.
Instead, many injuries are categorized as overuse or repetitive strain injuries, meaning pain and tissue damage are not the result of strain or overload from a single event, but instead occur as the musculoskeletal system is exposed to a large number of sub-maximal, repetitive forces over weeks or months. In this sense, tissue damage occurs slowly over time, eventually accumulating to a critical point in which symptoms are felt. This is why with most knee pain it is difficult to trace the pain or injury back to a specific incident or event.
To better understand knee pain it is important to realize that there is a significant amount of stress placed on the muscles of the knee. Even simple activities such as walking or climbing a flight of stairs requires the knee muscles to work hard in a effort to move and stabilize the area. With sports such as running, tennis, or golf, the demand on the muscles is even greater.
This physical stress placed on the knee can lead to what is known as micro-trauma. Simply stated, micro-trauma is very small scale damage that occurs in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in response to small levels of strain. Although only small, and at least initially is not painful, this damage still needs to be repaired, which the body does by forming new tissue in and around the injured tissue. This new tissue, often referred to as scar tissue or soft tissue adhesions, is very sticky and acts to ‘glue’ the damaged tissues back together.
Muscle damage and tightness that occurs with Knee Pain is associated with scar-tissue adhesions. To treat these adhesions stretching is not enough. Hands-on treatment such as Active Release Techniques therapy is needed to work out the muscle adhesions and restore normal strength and flexibility to the muscles.While this scar tissue is a normal and necessary part of healing problems can develop when the knee muscles are subjected to micro-trauma over the course of weeks or months. This ongoing micro-trauma will lead to the accumulation of scar-tissue in and around the knee. As this occurs it will start to make the knee muscles tight, stiff, and inflamed, and the knee movement will become more and more ‘sloppy’.
At this point it is not uncommon for the muscles to give way and a more severe and debilitating pain occurs. In fact, many patients come into our office explaining how they have knee pain but they did not really have any major type of injury occur. When further questioned these patients almost always describe some mild pain or tightness in their hips, back, or legs that has been building over time. As you can see from the explanation of the repetitive injury cycle, these types of injuries build-up over time until it eventually develops into larger scale injury.
How Can These Knee Injuries Be Fixed?
The Traditional Approach to Knee Pain
In an attempt to relieve Knee Pain a variety of treatment methods are traditionally used. Some of the more common approaches include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, rest, heat, ice, ultrasound, massage, acupuncture, and stretching and strengthening exercises. Unfortunately, most of these traditional techniques generally require a long period of time before they provide any significant relief, and in many cases provide only temporary relief from symptoms instead of fixing the underlying cause of the problem. The main reason that these approaches are often ineffective is that they fail to address the underlying scar tissue that develops within the muscles of the knee.
Passive approaches such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, rest, ice, acupuncture, and ultrasound, all focus on symptomatic relief and do nothing to address the cause of the problem. Stretches and exercises are often helpful, however they themselves do not treat the underlying scar-tissue (remember these adhesions are the underlying problem with the knee). In fact, without first addressing the scar tissue adhesions, stretches and exercises are often less effective and much slower to produce relief or recovery from knee pain.
Exercises to stretch or strengthen the knee may be helpful in some cases, but without first addressing the scar-tissue adhesion exercises will be limited and slow to provide relief for knee pain.
Our Approach to Knee Pain: ART – A Better Solution
ART stands for Active Release Techniques. It is a new and highly successful hands-on treatment method to address problems in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. What makes ART different from other treatments is that it is designed to identify and address scar tissue adhesions that are interfering with the normal function of the body. With respect to knee pain the goal is to 1) break-up restrictive scar tissue adhesions in the muscles of the knee, and 2) restore normal movement to the knee joint.
If you are unfamiliar with ART you can think of it as a type of active massage. The practitioner will first shorten the muscle, or nerve, and then apply a very specific pressure with their hands as you actively stretch and lengthen the tissues. As the tissue lengthens the practitioner is able to assess the texture and tension of the muscles to determine if the tissue is healthy or contains scar tissue that needs further treatment. When scar tissue adhesions are felt the amount and direction of tension can be modified to treat the problematic area.
How Long Will It Take To Feel Better?
One of the best things about ART is how fast it can get results. Each treatment takes about 15 minutes, and although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time it will require to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement with knee pain can be gained in just 4-5 treatments – even in cases of long-standing knee pain that has not responded to other treatment approaches.
Get Relief With Active Release Techniques.
To book an appointment to receive ART treatment for your knee problem simply call our office, or book an initial appointment online. For more information on ART, or for inquiries regarding specific injuries or conditions you can call us, or simply fill out our contact form.