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Can a Chiropractor Help with Arthritis in the Knee?

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Arthritis in the knee can be a debilitating condition that affects the quality of life for millions of people. Chiropractic care has been increasingly recognized as a viable alternative treatment for managing arthritis symptoms. In this article, we will explore the ways in which chiropractic care can help with arthritis in the knee, the techniques employed by chiropractors, and the potential benefits of this holistic approach.

Understanding Arthritis in the Knee

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the affected joints. Knee arthritis, in particular, can lead to difficulty in walking, climbing stairs, and performing daily activities. There are two main types of knee arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form, caused by the gradual wear and tear of cartilage, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the synovial lining of the joint.

The Chiropractic Approach to Knee Arthritis

Chiropractic care is a holistic healthcare discipline that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. Chiropractors use a range of non-invasive techniques to help alleviate pain and improve joint function in patients with knee arthritis. These techniques may include:

Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation, also known as chiropractic adjustment, is the primary technique used by chiropractors to restore joint mobility and realign the spine. Misaligned vertebrae can cause imbalances in the body, leading to abnormal wear and tear on the knee joint. By correcting these misalignments, chiropractors can help reduce the stress on the knee and alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Soft Tissue Therapy

Chiropractors often use soft tissue therapy to address muscle imbalances, tightness, and inflammation in the surrounding knee joint. This may include techniques like myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and stretching exercises. Soft tissue therapy can help improve joint flexibility, reduce pain, and promote healing in the affected area.

Joint Mobilization

Joint mobilization is a hands-on technique that involves the gentle movement of the affected knee joint to increase its range of motion and reduce stiffness. This approach can help to alleviate pain and improve joint function in patients with knee arthritis.

Custom Orthotics

In some cases, chiropractors may recommend custom orthotics, or shoe inserts, to help correct any biomechanical imbalances that may be contributing to knee arthritis. These orthotics can provide additional support, improve alignment, and reduce stress on the knee joint.

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The Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Knee Arthritis

Chiropractic care offers numerous benefits for individuals suffering from arthritis in the knee. Some of these advantages include:

Pain Relief

Chiropractic techniques can help to alleviate pain in the knee joint by addressing the root causes of the discomfort, such as spinal misalignments and muscle imbalances. This can lead to a reduction in the need for pain medications and improve the patient's overall quality of life.

Improved Joint Function

By addressing the underlying issues that contribute to arthritis in the the knee, chiropractic care can help to restore joint function and mobility. This can make it easier for patients to perform daily activities and maintain an active lifestyle.

Reduced Inflammation

Chiropractic techniques can help to decrease inflammation in the affected knee joint, which is a primary contributor to pain and stiffness in arthritis patients. By reducing inflammation, chiropractors can help to alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

Enhanced Muscle Strength and Flexibility

Chiropractors often prescribe specific exercises and stretches to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint and improve flexibility. This can help to support the joint, reduce pain, and prevent further deterioration of the knee joint.

Holistic Approach

Chiropractic care focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just the symptoms of a specific condition. This holistic approach ensures that all potential contributing factors, such as spinal misalignments, muscle imbalances, and lifestyle factors, are addressed, leading to a more comprehensive and effective treatment plan.

Potential Limitations and Considerations

While chiropractic care can be an effective treatment option for many individuals suffering from arthritis in the knee, it is essential to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. In some cases, such as severe joint damage or other underlying medical conditions, alternative treatments or surgical interventions may be necessary. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as your primary care physician or a chiropractor, to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific needs.


Chiropractic care can be a beneficial treatment option for individuals dealing with arthritis in the knee. By using various techniques to address spinal misalignments, muscle imbalances, and joint dysfunction, chiropractors can help to alleviate pain, improve joint function, and enhance the overall quality of life for their patients. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your unique situation. With the right care and support, it is possible to manage arthritis symptoms and maintain an active, fulfilling life.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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