Regional Interdependence

Regional Interdependence is a fancy way of saying that your body is all connected.  This may seem like an obvious statement, but what it means is much more complicated.  The theory of regional interdependence suggests that a nearby joint may be responsible for the primary complaint in a patient.  This means that while you think that you need to see a doctor about pain in your knee, the real problem may be in your hips or your lower back.

Because our bodies are so adaptable, a dysfunction that you don’t even notice in one part of your body causes your body to adjust and create new movement patterns.  This allows you to continue to function in your daily activities, but your movement pattern might be taking a toll on a different joint.  This can frequently be seen in the hips and knees.

The knees are supposed to be a stable joint that don’t have a wide range of motion.  The hips however are supposed to have much more mobility.  However, if your hips have gotten too tight or too loose, the knee (and sometimes the lower back) try to help the hips and take on more movement than they’re supposed to.  Thus the problem is in the hips, but you might be feeling the pain in your knees (or lower back) since that’s where the compensating movement occurs.

This is why a physical therapy evaluation is important; the therapist will not only assess the painful area, but try to find the source of the problem.  This is another reason why your home exercise plan will focus on more than just the area in pain.

For more information on regional interdependence, check out this article from the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.

If you have any questions or want an evaluation to improve movement patterns, call L A R Physical Therapy at 410.381.1574 or email to schedule an appointment.

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