by Helen Mawson
In this article, I share with you some information concerning the knee and the things I do in practice to treat the many problems associated with the knee joint and its supporting structures. I also share some self-help tips for you to try.
The anatomy of the knee joint
The knee joints function is to permit the flexion and extension of the lower leg relative to the thigh while supporting the body’s weight. Movements at the knee joint are essential to everyday activities, including walking, running, sitting and standing.
The knee is a synovial hinge joint formed between three bones: the femur, tibia, and patella. Two rounded, convex processes (known as condyles) on the distal end of the femur meet two rounded, concave condyles at the proximal end of the tibia.
The patella lies in front of the femur on the anterior surface of the knee with its smooth joint-forming processes on its posterior surface facing the femur.
The joint-forming surfaces of each bone are covered with a thin layer of hyaline cartilage that gives them an extremely smooth surface and protects the underlying bone from damage. Between the femur and tibia is the meniscus a tough fibrocartilage acting as a shock absorber inside the knee to prevent the collision of the leg bones during strenuous activities.
The patella is held in place by the patellar ligament, which extends from the inferior border of the patella to the tibial tuberosity of the tibia.
There are several other ligaments that support the functioning of the knee joint these include; the oblique popliteal ligament, arcuate popliteal ligament, medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
There are also two internal ligaments – the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL & PCL). These help to maintain the proper alignment of the knee.
In addition to the joint capsule and ligaments that support the knee, there are also several important structures surrounding the knee that help cushion and protect the joint.
The Bowen Knee Procedure
The Bowen knee procedure works with the whole body in how is supports the knee joint and the knee’s supporting structures.
In the procedure we address the Vastus Lateralis muscle which supports the Patella, the Patella itself is also worked with and the Vastus Medialis muscle which also supports the Patella and specific ligaments. The Gastrocnemius muscles are addressed which help drain any fluid on and around the knee and help to ease cramping in the lower leg and calves. Lastly, we address the Tibial Nerve and Neurovascular bundle on the ankle.
After the Bowen knee procedure, we recommend that clients do not heat, massage or exercise for one week. We also recommend that that any swelling or fluid on the knee is drawn off using soda crystals.
In a session, I would show you some exercises for the knee joint as appropriate and I might also advise you on remedies that could help with symptoms.
Self-help for the knee
The aim of this exercise is to strengthen and stabilise the quadriceps and cruciate ligaments. Never exercise with a swollen or inflamed knee.
Position: Sit well back on a bench or table with the thighs supported by the table and the feet hanging free.
Exercise: Place a light weight (a packet of rice) on the dorsal aspect of the ankle and slowly raise the lower leg. Take the knee almost to full extension. Repeat 5 – 10 times.
Watch for the quads to quiver, the muscles need to exhibit this point of quiver status so adjust the weight to achieve this. If the muscles quiver or shake before five repeats the foot is carrying too much weight so adjust accordingly.
Do this exercise on both sides, even if you are only addressing injuries to one side of the body.
Soda Crystal pack
Using a soda crystal pack is invaluable for any joint where there is fluid present. Simply wrap some soda crystals in a handkerchief and make a pad to be placed on the joint just below the patella. Use tape or a bandage to hold the pad in place and leave on over night or for at least 4 hours. (never put the crystals directly onto the skin). When the pack is taken off the crystals will be solid as they should have drained off the excess fluid on the joint.
Using a support when undertaking activities that put a direct strain on the knee can be useful in some cases. It should be mentioned however that if serious injury is present here, anything that puts a strain on the joint or the supporting structures should generally be avoided.