If you have pain in the knee or back you probably think something is wrong with your knee or back.
In most cases this is probably correct but sometimes the brain gets confused making you think that one part of the body hurts when in fact, the real source of trouble is elsewhere.
This curious (and clinically important) phenomenon is known as referred pain.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the symptoms that get thrown in with “sciatica”, well today we’re going to talk about another common kind of pain that gets muddled, confused and then mistreated.
When your knee hurts . . . . .
If you have pain in your knee, you would most likely see your doctor, perhaps getting an X-ray or MRI scan.
What if these investigations don’t show a problem? You still have pain in your knee but your doctor is saying there is nothing wrong. What then?
Or worse, they show a small issue, you start treatment (or even an operation!) but . . . . it doesn’t improve.
I have written many articles about the importance of taking the time for a correct diagnosis and looking at the bigger picture, including the joints connected to where you have pain.
This is critical when dealing with referred pain – where the actual problem in one part of the body causes pain or symptoms elsewhere.
It is so important to always do a full clinical assessment of the patient as a whole.
If you complain of knee pain and there is nothing wrong with your knee, no matter how much treatment you have, no matter how many operations you have, you will still have knee pain.
Hip, knee or back?
Hip joint pain can be confusing. Not only are there many causes but most people are unsure where their hip joint actually is.
True hip joint pain is usually felt in the groin area (where the leg bone attaches to the pelvis) and this is different from upper thigh pain, outer thigh pain, buttock pain or even side pain which can often be due to other issues.
Then there may be referred pain from lower back problems and sciatic pain, the list goes on.
People also complain of knee pain due to issues in the hips. This is the complicated “referral pattern” due to nerve and muscle interaction.
Treat the person not the pictures
By looking at you, it becomes clear whether the problem is a knee, back or a hip issue.
Recently I had a patient complaining of pain in her right hip however, when we reviewed her, the left hip was the problem!
The right hip pain was due to her compensating for the left!
By treating the correct area of the body you get quicker, more effective and efficient treatment. Saving you time, pain and money!