If you have ever had any sort of knee injury you are probably familiar with the standard knee pain protocol of RICE therapy.
This of course is:
Rest – Make sure you get plenty of rest so your body has a chance to heal the damage to your knee.
Ice – Ice down the area of the injury using ice, cold packs, or sometimes even frozen vegetables.
Compression – Wrap the area with an ACE bandage or tight fitting knee brace to keep the swelling down.
Elevation – Raise the knee above the level of the heart to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Of course this goes without saying that you went to your doctor’s to make sure there was nothing broken or torn.
What happens though if after a couple of weeks or a month that you have followed this knee treatment to the letter and you still have issues like pain, swelling, and inflammation?
What do you do if your doctor is saying “nothing is wrong” yet you still can’t run, bike or do the things you loved to do before your injury?
If you can answer “yes” to the previous two questions then you fall into a category thousands upon thousands of people find themselves in every year. It is sort of a knee treatment “limbo” where the questions about how to resolve the pain never ends and the answers are for all intents and purposes are non-existent.
It is time to start thinking outside “the box” about your knee treatment strategy. Let me first introduce you to a part of your anatomy that isn’t talked about much in regards to knee pain. It is called your fascia. Fascia or connective tissue in essence is a layer of fibrous tissue that permeates the body surrounding your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. In some places of the body fascia is almost liquid like mercury and in other places can be as strong as a steel cable (think of the knots you get between your shoulder blades). A good example of fascia is the silvery coating over the top of chicken breast.
Now this next part I am going to tell you is really important in understanding your predicament with knee pain and why your knee treatment is not changing what is going in your knees. Especially, if you have scar tissue that has built up because of your knee injury. Scar tissue is nothing more than connective tissue (fascia) that collects at the site of the injury to protect your knee from getting injured further. This is cool for the injury, not cool if you want the injury to heal and for it to never come back again.
In essence the connective tissue has re-molded itself to your “new body” to compensate for your injury. This has a big effect on your lymphatic system (think of your lymphatic system as the trash collectors in your body). Now when your body begins to form scar tissue to protect the knee injury and you can think of the scar tissue like the police are now shutting down the roads so the trash collectors can’t pick up the garbage. The police are going to stay there until they get orders from the city commissioner to do differently because that is their job.
So now the trash keeps piling up and the trash collectors can’t get to the garbage to haul the trash away and the police won’t let the trash collectors in until they are told to go home. This is the perfect conditions for the garbage to start stinking and the flies and rats to move in.
Back to your knees. Scar tissue is building up, the lymphatic system can’t move the old dead cells out of your knee, and as a result you have swelling, inflammation and pain because now the pressure is being put on the nerves in the knee from the patterning in the scar tissue and excess fluid buildup.
So what is the answer? Just think of your brain as the city commissioner and all you need to do is tell the police to go home so the trash collectors can do their job!
You can also think of “un-kinking the garden hose” all we need to do is create the space in the joint so your body begins to relax and unwind itself through comfortable body positioning. When you get the knee comfortable, the pressure is taken off of the nerves in your knee sending a signal to your brain (city commissioner) that it is OK to send the police home.
I know this is somewhat of a complicated description for knee treatment. It is actually quite a simple process that happens quite quickly once the mind can get around the concept of comfort. You can think of it like following directions to a new friend’s house for the first time. By the fourth or fifth time you can almost get to their house blindfolded!
This is the very same with proper knee treatment and recovering from your knee injury.