This couldn't be simpler. Just because a joint is replaced doesn't mean the joint or the body will be pain free and/or functional.
Think about your car. If you were riding on the highway and notice your steering wheel vibrating quite a lot, perhaps even shimmying, you would be concerned there is a problem. Does that mean your steering wheel is broken or needs replacement? If you had the steering wheel replaced would you have corrected the underlying or root cause of the shimmying problem?
The point is: a shimmying steering wheel is a symptom and is not the underlying problem in and of itself. The root cause of the shimmying steering wheel is misaligned unbalanced wheels. Correct the underlying cause, the misalignment, and you correct the shimmying problem. This analogy can be applied to joint pain, degeneration, joint replacements and the entire human body.
If you have knee pain or have degenerated knees, bone on bone knees, it has nothing to do with old age. A client said his knee problem "is just old age. It's hell getting old!" I asked, "does your other knee hurt?" He replied, "no." "Then how could your knee pain be caused by old age?"
What then is the cause of knee pain and degeneration? Genetics? How could that be? Some relatives have knee pain and some don't.
The knee joint is a HINGE joint. It operates just like a door hinge. Do you have hinges that twist? No, definitely not. Hinges only operate properly as long as there is no rotation or torquing. Imagine leaning hard on a cabinet door, chances are good you may bend or damage the hinge. Does the hinge work smoothly and well after bending or twisting it?
If there is rotation or twisting or torquing IN YOUR KNEE JOINT (which is due to your leg/femur bone rotating inward or outward in gait), there will be impaired function, friction and wear and tear. Then there will be inflammation, the body's way of attempting to protect the vital inner joint surfaces and structure. The cartilage will in time be worn away and there may be tears to the meniscus and or bone spurs, another last ditch effort by the body to protect the joint.
Going back to the steering wheel analogy: Then where does the knee pain come from? Look in a full length mirror. Do your feet turn out or in, duck footed or pigeon toed? Do you knee caps point straight ahead or angle to the sides or towards the other knee? Has someone told you have a leg length difference? Is your pelvis elevated on one side? Is your rear end flat? These are all strong indications that your hip joints are not functioning properly.
The hip joint is analogous to
the "handle of the whip." Let's think about the thigh bone, knee, ankle and foot as the whip or lash. How and where the handle of the whip moves (the hip joint), the rest of the whip (leg, knee, ankle, foot) will follow.
If you have arthritis, degenerative changes in the knee joint or meniscus, ACL, PCL tears etc. you have a posture (or position) problem caused by muscle imbalances. The root cause is not a faulty "steering wheel" (see beginning of this article) or faulty knee joint. You have a faulty hip joint and pelvis function due to muscles not keeping the leg and knee joint straight during use.
If you replace the knee joint - that is not the end of the pain and dysfunction. Why? Because you don't have a knee problem, you have a hip problem caused by hip muscles being imbalanced. You have knee pain but not a knee problem. And it's very likely back pain is or will soon be part of your life.
The pelvis and hip joints work together. The pelvis is designed in the shape of a bowl except that it has two identical halves. Imagine a bowl cut in half. Now imagine the two halves are designed to move like opposite "See Saws" (the children's playground apparatus). As one half moves downward the other half moves upward. This is called flexion and extension.
The "hip" is referred to as where the leg bone inserts in the pelvis or hip socket. The hip joint is shown here. This joint is a ball and socket joint and should be able to move freely in a rotational multidirectional fashion.
In general, proper functional pelvic and hip movement is where the pelvis is doing it's "See-Sawing" and the head of the leg bone or the hip joint is freely moving too. All these components are free to move and there is freedom of blood and nerve circulation without friction inside the hip joint.
Over time due to inactivity, sitting too long, injury etc. the muscles that coordinate the flexion/extension pelvic motion and the leg/hip motion become imbalanced, impaired, problematic and then do not function properly.
Degenerative changes in the hip socket occur when the pelvis stops moving, stops flexing and extending properly but the leg bone continues to move in the socket. This can be seen where pelvic function and movement becomes impaired and immobile and begins to rotate versus flex and extend or stops moving entirely. This causes a serious lack of blood supply and a great deal of friction and wear and tear inside the hip joint. It affects muscles, joints, ligaments, cartilage, bone.....all components! Many other muscles, joints and in many cases, organ systems will be adversely effected including the spine. (We'll save that large topic for a future post.)
When bones and joints have reduced, compromised blood circulation, the bone actually dies. Dying bone is called Necrosis. Avascular means without blood flow. Avascular Necrosis, a common diagnosis, is a SYMPTOM -- a CONSEQUENCE of the ROOT CAUSE of muscle and joint dysfunction.
Take your fist pretending it's the head of your femur or leg bone, put it in the palm of your other cupped hand. Your cupped hand acts as the deep hip socket, the acetabulum, which is part of the pelvis. Now move, rotate and grind your fist in your palm (keeping the palm stationary) for 30 days and see if you don't develop major blisters, friction and damage. This is what happens with hip dysfunction but the friction goes on for years. The head of the femur or leg bone keeps moving in the socket BUT the pelvis and hip socket stops moving.
The key to preventing Hip Joint Degeneration and avoid Hip Replacement is to get the pelvis and hip joint SYSTEMATICALLY functioning properly again. This does not mean go to the gym and start using weight machines or the pool or doing Pilates or exercise classes. It does not mean start using the Elliptical Trainer. It means finding a posture therapist who works with the entire body and does not focus on symptoms.
Once you have developed degenerative joints anywhere in the body, it is time to look at the ENTIRE body because 100% of the time, there are other joints and muscles that have also been seriously compromised in the process of you creating your joint degeneration. If you only focus on the one painful area (the steering wheel analogy see the second paragraph above) you are missing many other important areas that need as much if not more rehabilitation. If you are not bearing weight equally front to back, side to side, you have a snowballs chance of getting pain free and life without limitation.
Go to a trained skilled Posture Therapist who will help rehabilitate the dysfunctional posture, muscles and joints for the entire body.
If the hip joint is replaced and the pelvic dysfunction and immobility is not addressed there will be more wear and tear elsewhere in body. It's coming.
Don't Settle for Band-Aids on SYMPTOMS - Find & fix the ROOT CAUSE
When you are dealing with pain and the possibility of invasive procedures that will not solve the underlying problem, make sure you know exactly what the root cause is. Keep asking your doctor "why". Answers like "arthritis" or "Avascular Necrosis" or "torn Meniscus" or "ACL/PCL tear" or "Labral tear" are not Root Causes. If you are confused by the answer to "why" or aren't sure, it's time to get more information.
Modern medicine is only focused on the body part in pain--the symptom. Unfortunately seldom is the part in pain the root cause of the pain. Because the body functions AS A UNIT, just working with the painful part will not address the total underlying problem.
Now is the time to fix the muscle and joint dysfunction and start living without limitation. Call The POSTURE Clinic to discuss your situation and becoming pain free without surgery, drugs or manipulation. 772-559-1532.
Catee Ingwersen is a Posture Alignment Specialist trained, certified by the Egoscue University in The Egoscue® Method. She empowers people every day to overcome pain and physical limitations unlike any other healing or medical intervention. Call 772-559-1532 or stop by our Clinic in Vero Beach, Florida to discuss this common sense approach and your individual needs.
Catee Ingwersen is an Egoscue certified Posture Alignment Specialist and Licensed Massage Therapist.