What does the kidney have to do with the knee? And: do they get along?
A little excursion into Osteopathy
Let’s assume, a young woman with recurring pain in her knee visits the doctor. Most of her pain is located in her medial left knee, but occasionally she experiences pain in her right knee as well.
The doctor examines her, maybe even takes an x-ray to exclude major damage, and finds... nothing conspicuous. A slight swelling at the attachment zones of the ligaments at the medial side of the knee- that’s all. Maybe he applies ultra sound or perscribes pain killers, or gives a cortison injection. That helps- short term. But the pain returns. Maybe he sends her to see a physiotherapist, who examines and finds... also not much: the swelling mentioned above, the axis of the leg is slightly off, some muscle tension. So she/he treats muscles and ligaments, analyzes the gait pattern and trains the patient to have a better motion pattern. This helps- mid term. But the pain reoccurs. The patient hears about Osteopathy and decides to give it a try.
So what happens at the Osteopath? She/he takes a thorough case history, that includes body, mind and spirit, as Dr. Still, the founder of Osteopathy expressed it. “Man is a triune“ Dr. Still. Here it is not only about the knee, that currently has a problem. What else was in the preceding history? Surgeries? Serious diseases or a high fever? Accidents? Emotional trauma? A difficult birth? And how do all the organs function? Has there been or is there a problem? How about the psychological/emotional situation in every day living – job and family? In Osteopathy it is always about the whole human being.
The young woman explains the knee has been hurting for 3 months now. In her case history there was a bladder infection - shortly before the knee started to hurt. Approximately around the same time her boyfriend really let her down. So how is this all connected? Now finally the question of how knee and kidney are connected will be answered!
The kidney is considered an organ, which reacts to emotional injuries and stress. This means, in our example it is already stressed. Via the ureters the bladder is connected with both kidneys. A bladder infection gives tension on the ureters, which leads to an irritation of the kidneys. Although there is no inflammation of the kidneys, this still leads to a so called “dysfunction“. As the organ per se still functions well, the doctor, who checks for structural changes in organ or blood work, cannot find anything wrong. But still the kidney and the fascias (specific membranes) of the kidney are very tense. Those fascias are in direct contact with the fascia of the iliopsoas muscle, one of the most important hip flexors. Under healthy circumstances on this very muscle the kidney slides up and down with every step one walks. A tension in the fascias inevitably leads to a disturbance in the muscle. The muscle goes to the medial side of the thigh and in turn has a relation with muscles, that go to the medial side of the knee. As more than one muscle attaches here, this leads to more tension in this area- which in turn gives rise to a local irritation. And this is, how the kidney can produce pain at the knee. And why is the other knee hurting sometimes as well? Because the kidneys are interconnected via ligaments and if one kidney is in dysfunction, so the other one suffers too. And a problem shared unfortunately is not a problem halved...
The founder of Osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) lost several of his children and his first wife due to meningitis. Afterwards he questioned the current approach of medicine, that would apply medication with serious side effects, such as mercury or blood-letting. He thoroughly studied nature and anatomy and recognized the major interconnections in the body. So he started to fundamentally change his treatment concept. For him the major goal was the activation of the selfhealing potency of the body. Any kind of restriction, of whichever nature, disturbs the natural balance and leads to local stagnations, irritations, inflammations, which in turn gives rise to malnutrition of the tissue and often also to chronic pain (like e.g. fibromyalgia) and consequently to functional disorders (like e.g. irritable bowel syndrome). These changes can be felt. Although this requires a training of many years and an extremly specific knowledge of anatomy and physiology, this is possible. Just as a wine taster can tell you the grape, the year and the area a wine comes from.
In the mid term the disorders lead to structural damage (e.g. disc rupture)- and now the doctor reaches a diagnosis with the tools he is using.
With his treatments Dr. Still was so successful, that finally in 1874 he founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri – which still exists. In 1917 the British School of Osteopathy in London was founded and thus the expansion of Osteopathy in Europe began. Dr. Still never considered Osteopathy as a competition to main stream medicine, but saw it as a logical path medicine would take, as it was successful and did not cause any harm at all. For many years Osteopathy spread more and more, until the Fletcher Report in the USA caused major restrictions for any kind of holisitic medicine. Also during this period Homeopathy, that at that time was extremely successful in the US, almost vanished. Although nowadays Osteopathy is practised worldwide, it is largely unknown in Canada, especially western Canada. More commonly people have heard about Cranio Sacral Therapy, which actually is just a little part of Osteopathy. Also some well trained massage therapists use visceral manipulations. All those sections support the selfhealing of the body- but they remain a part of the greater whole, the whole human being. And the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
More information on Osteopathy on www.betterways.de
Susanne F. Dick D.O. (Germany)