Knee Pain Part II: Adrenals and Gallbladder
As touched on briefly at the end of Part I, there may be reasons for your knee pain beyond common structural issues. Every organ has a muscle relationship, and in the next two parts of this series we will discuss the organs that are associated with the muscles around the knee. A muscle-organ relationship is very simple - if an organ is distressed and not functioning well, the muscles that have a connection to that organ will also not function well. A very common occurrence is low back pain being caused by the large intestine. The large intestine has a direct relationship with an important lower back muscle, the quadratus lumborum (QL). This muscle connects your pelvis to your lumbar spine (your low back) and is integral to its stabilization. If the large intestine is under stress from maybe a bacterial infection or food allergy, the QL can become compromised leading to low back pain. Let's take this example and apply it the knee. Here are the knee muscles mentioned in Part I:
- Popliteus (right behind the knee)
- Sartorius (starts at the front of the hip and connects at the medial knee)
- Gracilis (groin muscle)
- Gluteus (maximus, medius, minimus)
- Hamstring (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris)
- TFL (tensor fascia lata – forms IT band)
- Quadricep (vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, rectus femorus)
- Calves (gastrocnemius and soleus)
- Anterior tibialis (shin muscle)
The muscles associated with the adrenal glands are the sartorius, gracilis, anterior tibialis, gastrocnemius, and soleus – a large number on our list. Adrenal dysfunction can cause problems with one or all these muscles and usually results in medial knee pain and meniscus injuries since many of attachments of these muscles are located on the inside of the knee. Adrenal dysfunction is often a secondary problem to other organs, but it is possible that if you are under too much stress, are emotionally distraught, have multiple injuries, eat too much sugar, or have significant allergies, the adrenals can become a primary condition. Applied Kinesiologists are one of the few doctors that recognize adrenal fatigue and the need to support this organ as it is integral to our health and energy. Adrenal fatigue symptoms range from feeling tired and rundown to feeling lightheaded when you stand up. Herbal adaptogens such as ashwagandha or ginseng may be necessary to give the adrenals a boost but do not overdo these as they can cause further exhaustion down the line. The same can be said for adrenal tissue or taking a hormone like DHEA. Other supporting nutrients for the adrenals include choline, potassium, zinc, and B-vitamins such as pantethine, riboflavin, niacinamide, or P-5-P, and others. Combining proper nutrition with removing whatever stress is aggravating the adrenals is integral to their healing.
The muscle associated with the gallbladder is the popliteus. The popliteus starts on the lateral side of the top part of your knee at the femur and connects around the back of the knee to the tibia (shin bone). Discomfort from this muscle will refer to the back or “inside” of the knee, often feeling like it is hard to pinpoint a specific spot. This is a very important muscle for the stability of your knee and to have confidence with athletic movements. Many things can affect the gallbladder such as too estrogen (in females and males), too much insulin (poor diet with too many carbohydrates), too much stress elevating cortisol, epinephrine, or norepinephrine, infections, and more. The gallbladder stores and releases bile made in our liver to break down and emulsify fat to be absorbed in the gut. Symptoms of a sluggish gallbladder include feeling heavy after a meal, burping often, constipation, and light-colored stool. If you are not releasing enough bile or if your bile is too thick, food must sit in the intestines for long periods of time for fat to be absorbed, leading to constipation. Common gallbladder nutrients include TMG (helps thin bile), bile salts (to give the gallbladder a break), vitamin A, and many others. If you do not have a gallbladder, your body can adapt and still show a need for gallbladder nutrients indicating that you may not be absorbing fats properly.