Knee pain, problems and injuries make up a significant amount of the cases that we see in the clinic these days. Arthroscopes and knee replacements are some of the most common surgeries performed today. Yet in many ways our lifestyle today is less active and gentler on our knees than ever before, so why the huge number of knee problems?
There are no doubt many contributing factors, but one that we have found to be important in a large percentage of the cases we see in the clinic is a hidden underlying reason…a connection between the function of the gallbladder and an important muscle in the knee called popliteus.
It sounds unlikely at first, but the gallbladder and the popliteus muscle are connected by the gallbladder acupuncture meridian. This connection has been scientifically confirmed by muscle testing using Applied Kinesiology, a form of chiropractic.
When the gallbladder is under stress or not functioning properly, it causes the popliteus muscle to become “switched off”, or neurologically inhibited. This means that the muscle does not fire properly and has only a fraction of its normal strength.
The resulting weakness has a devastating effect on the stability of the knee joint. Popliteus is a small muscle in the back of the knee that is involved in the “screw home” mechanism of the knee. This is the small amount of rotation (only 5 degrees) that occurs when we fully straighten our knee, which allows us to “lock” the joint. When popliteus isn’t working properly it really destabilizes the whole knee joint.
This muscle weakness affects both knees, but it most commonly shows up as symptoms in one knee… usually the dominant one or the one that gets used the most. It can cause knee pain in all positions, but one of the most classic signs is knee pain that is worse walking downstairs than upstairs (or worse downhill than uphill). The pain is most often felt under the kneecap, even though the muscle responsible is at the back of the knee. Another sign of this problem is that often the muscle will be very tender if your press in behind the centre of the knee.
So what causes the stress on the gallbladder which “switches off” the popliteus muscle?
Well, the function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate the bile, which is then ejected into the intestines to help break down any fats that we have eaten. This means that if we are eating a fatty diet, the gallbladder has to work harder to perform its function.
This is the reason why someone’s knee can feel “up and down”, or better one day and then worse again the next. People are often confused by the fact that how their knee feels doesn’t seem to relate to their level of activity….in fact it is more dependent on what they have eaten that day.
The gallbladder also has a role to play in detoxification, as all fat-soluble toxins in the body are broken down by the liver and excreted in the bile. This means that if the body is particularly toxic the gallbladder can again be placed under stress, causing the knee problem to show up again.
Unfortunately, a fatty diet and toxic environment is a very common combination of factors in our Western society….perhaps the reason why we are seeing more and more knee problems?
If you have a recurring knee problem, get it checked out by a chiropractor who practices Applied Kinesiology…you may just find the hidden reason why it keeps coming back!