Knee Injuries Affecting the Back

Can Knee Pain Cause Back Pain?

The quick answer is yes. In 2010 the Global Burden of Disease revealed that low back pain was the single leading cause of disability worldwide. There are several factors with knee injuries affecting the back:

  • Sports injuries.
  • Car accidents.
  • Arthritis.
  • Poor body mechanics.
  • Obesity.
  • General lower body weakness.

Can a knee injury cause back pain knee injuries affecting the back

A few of these examples are specific to injuries related directly to the back, however, some of the others are in reference to injuries of different body parts that can affect the back.

How Can Knee Injuries affecting the Back cause Back Pain?

The kinetic chain theory, or link theory, is studied by many researchers and movement specialists throughout the country. We can use this theory to try to explain how an injury to one part of the body can lead to injury or dysfunction in another part of the body unrelated to the initial injury.

In this article’s example, impairments in knee strength, stability, or flexibility can predispose the back to injury due to the chain reaction of forces traveling through the feet, to the ankles, up to the knees, through the hips, and into the spine when walking, running, jumping, or even standing. 

An easy way to picture this is by imagining how you walk when you have pain in the knee. 

This walking pattern is most likely not your normal walking pattern, which means the other joints in your body are not used to this abnormal movement which causes them to compensate for their movements, changing the demands placed on the muscles and soft tissue structures around that joint.

Knee Injuries Can Also Be The Cause of Low Back PainKnee Injuries Can Also Cause Low Back Pain

The joints in our lower limb work together to transfer forces between the limb segments during motion. If there is a hitch in any of these mechanisms it not only affects the lower limb but also affects the joints above and below it.

To learn more about your back, please read this article on lower back anatomy and low back pain.

Based on what we know about the kinetic chain theory, abnormalities in the lower limb may cause additional forces to be transmitted up the chain to the spine. A few examples of abnormalities in the knee that can affect the spine include:

  • Muscle imbalance                                                            
  • Ligamentous instability
  • Flexibility deficits especially tight hamstrings
  • Neuromuscular changes
  • Altered walking/running/jumping 

Related Articles: How JOI Can Help With Knee Arthritis and  Avoiding A Knee Replacement and Conservative Treatment Options

Treatment for Knee Injuries Affecting the Back 

Physical therapy can be a great first step in the treatment of both your knee and your back.  One of the easiest things to do is start with a stretching program.  The hamstring muscles when tight can certainly play a role in also causing back pain.  The hamstring attach to pelvis and when they are tight they can certainly affect your posture and can cause back pain.  Here is an easy hamstring stretch.

If you have the problem of knee injuries affecting the back,  JOI Physicians offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, Certified Manual Therapist

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