Knee pain, problems and injuries make up a significant amount of the cases we see in the clinic these days. Arthroscopes and knee replacements are some of the most common surgeries performed today. However, in many ways, our current lifestyle is less active and easier on our knees than ever before, so why the plethora of knee problems?

There are undoubtedly many contributing factors, but one that we have found to be important in a large percentage of the cases we see in the clinic is a hidden underlying reason…a connection between gallbladder function and a major muscle in the knee. called popliteus.

It sounds unlikely at first, but the gallbladder and popliteus muscle are connected by the gallbladder acupuncture meridian. This connection has been scientifically confirmed by muscle testing using Applied Kinesiology, a form of chiropractic.

When the gallbladder is under stress or not working properly, it causes the popliteus muscle to “shut down” or become neurologically inhibited. This means that the muscle is not activated properly and only has a fraction of its normal strength.

The resulting weakness has a devastating effect on the stability of the knee joint. Popliteus is a small muscle at the back of the knee that is involved in the “starting screw” mechanism of the knee. This is the small amount of rotation (only 5 degrees) that occurs when we fully straighten the knee, allowing us to “lock” the joint. When the popliteus doesn’t work properly, it really destabilizes the entire knee joint.

This muscle weakness affects both knees, but most commonly manifests as a symptom in one knee…usually the dominant or most used one. It can cause knee pain in all positions, but one of the most classic signs is knee pain that is worse walking down stairs than walking up stairs (or worse downhill than uphill). The pain is most often felt below the kneecap, although the muscle responsible is at the back of the knee. Another sign of this problem is that the muscle will often be very tender if it presses behind the center of the knee.

So what causes the stress on the gallbladder that “turns off” the popliteus muscle?

Well, the function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate bile, which is then expelled into the intestines to help break down the fats that we have eaten. This means that if we are eating a high-fat diet, the gallbladder has to work harder to perform its function.

This is why someone’s knee can feel “up and down,” or better one day and then worse the next. People are often confused by the fact that how your knee feels doesn’t seem to be related to your activity level…in fact, it depends more on what you ate that day.

The gallbladder also has a role to play in detoxification, as all fat-soluble toxins in the body are broken down by the liver and excreted in the bile. This means that if the body is particularly toxic, the gallbladder can again be put under stress, causing the knee problem to return.

Unfortunately, a high-fat diet and a toxic environment is a very common combination of factors in our Western society…perhaps the reason we see more and more knee problems?

If you have a recurring knee problem, get it checked out by a chiropractor who practices Applied Kinesiology… you just might find the underlying reason it keeps coming back!