Bend Those Knees!

In the past few years, knee pains have been on the upswing. It almost seems that on average I have at least three or more people complaining of knee pains. Sometimes it is the right knee, sometimes the left and in more intense cases both. The diagnoses given by their primary care physicians or their orthopods cite “bone on bone” where the cartilage between the femur bone and the leg bone has totally withered away. However, many times arthritis is the primary diagnosis and culprit being caused by wear and tear as well as old age. I have seen over the past fourteen years of practice a direct correlation with one’s life experiences and knee pains.

One story I am going to share hopefully will provide some insight into the underlying cause of knee pain. Around five years ago, Claudia came to my office due to intense pain in both knees. She had heard about me via friends who had come in for various health concerns and she was hoping that I could help her. Let me provide some background on Claudia. Claudia was a physically active woman, who enjoyed swimming, playing volleyball, and running. However, recently the pain in her knees were increasingly getting more and more painful. There were few moments where her knee would just dislocate for no apparent reason, which would create an extreme amount of pain forcing her to the ER to get her knees reset into alignment.

During our first initial consultation I started by asking Claudia, “so what is going on in your life?”

Claudia responded, “For the most part life is fine, except that I am not sure what to do about my job. A part of me knows that it is time for me to step down and retire, but the other part of me feels that no one can replace me. I am deeply concerned that if I retire, it will leave my organization in a bad situation.”

I then inquired, “When did you first notice your knee pain getting more intense and painful?”

Claudia answered, “It has been more painful the past few months, but I would have to say around six months ago.”

Being the inquisitive being that I am, I asked, “So what was happening around six months or seven months ago when you first started to notice the increasing pain in your knees?” Claudia thought for a bit, shifted her body in the chair and then all of a sudden I could see a light of recognition in her eyes. She began by saying, “That is so weird that you asked me that. Could it be? Hmmmmmm. Okay now, around six to seven months ago, I started to contemplate about retiring. It is not that I am unhappy with my job, it’s just that I am wanting to have more freedom and dedicate my life to other endeavors. However, I feel very responsible at my position and want the perfect person to replace me, but that person hasn’t shown up.”

I followed up with, “Is it that you haven’t found someone or is it harder for you to let go a position that you have held for a long time?” Claudia paused and was just about to speak, when a big grin came across face. Claudia chuckled to herself and then spoke, ”How did you know that I have a hard time delegating and I feel like no one can do this job as good as me?” Claudia knew she had to move forward, but she was resisting the change of letting go of her position. Although she knew it was the best thing for her, where she was at in life, she just could not do it.

I just responded, “It appeared to me that you are in control most of the time and over the years I have witnessed knee pain correlates with anyone resisting to change. My favorite analogy is ‘What does one do when they are at church or they get to a certain point in life when they ask God for help?” Claudia looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Oh….I get it! At Church we usually get down on our knees and pray. Can it really be that simple?” I just smiled and said, “why don’t you try for yourself and see?”

Claudia decided to get under care and as she received her adjustments, her knees became less and less painful. However, although she had some bumps and set backs along the way, little by little Claudia came to terms with her situation and realized what she was resisting. Even when her knee dislocated again, she was able to relocate it herself without having to go to the ER. The amazing part of this story is that once she retired, Claudia’s knee pains went away, even though the diagnosis of her orthopedic surgeon was “bone on bone” with no cartilage. She did not have to go through total knee replacement surgery and was able to enjoy her life more fully and pursue her next life’s adventure.

If you can relate to knee stiffness or pain, or have a story to share about how an experience was linked to pain, please feel free to share it in the comment box below.  There is a benefit to expressing and sharing our stories!