There can be numerous forms of knee injuries that affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bursae and synovial fluids, bones, etc. Pain, inflammation, soreness and tenderness, swelling and heat are usual signs of a knee injury. One of the most common knee injury is that called “Runner’s Knee.” Because treatment and healing can be successfully self-administered, this frequent form of knee discomfort responds well to the use of herbal tinctures, salves, liniments and the like, instead of intervention using prescription medications that can disrupt other body systems. This article will help you to assess your knee discomfort, learn about your knee parts, and determine therapeutic strategies, including the use of Solomon’s Seal.
The term “Runner’s Knee” (patello-femoral syndrome) is basically an inflammation and pain under the knee cap where it rubs on the femur (thigh bone). Runners, dancers, gymnasts, and athletes are susceptible. However, people in general can experience its discomfort if they over exert themselves too quickly while trying to get in shape, have bad body mechanics such as ankle pronation, or perhaps carry too much weight that puts added force on the knees and ankles when walking, going down stairs, bending, or running.
The two most common forms of Runner’s Knee are patellar tendonitis and chondromalacia patella. Over-training and poor biomechanics (as a result of injury, ankle pronation, knock knees, and effects of excessive weight) are the leading causes.
Patellar tendonitis is when the pain is localized to the tendon in your knee cap. Chondromalacia patallea means that scarring has occurred because the knee cap does not sit properly in its femoral groove, and the underside has worn down and become rough and deteriorated. This can be caused by a lack of flexibility in any or all of the muscles known as the quadriceps, hamstrings, or calves. Most often, however, it is caused by a problem with the foot or ankle, usually due to excessively worn shoes and over training, if one is a runner. The problem can be exacerbated by excessive hill work.
In short, knee discomfort mostly relates to tendons and other connective tissues (such as ligaments and muscles), but does not have to specifically be localized in the knee. The ankles, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings play a key role in supporting the knee. Of course, other issues may cause knee discomfort, such as deteriorated cartilage, fractured patellar from a fall, or sprain, as noted below.
Because of the herb Solomon’s Seal’s usefulness in reading and adjusting connective tissues (tendons, ligaments), and helping with inflammation, joints (i.e. cartilage, synovial fluid, bursae, etc.) and bones, it should be considered part of a healing regimen with knee issues, as this article later discusses.
KNOW YOUR KNEE CAP
The kneecap’s formal name is the Patella. The patella is attached to the femur and tibia bones by ligaments and is located to allow sliding over the head of each bone when the knee is bent. The purpose of the kneecap (Patella) is to protect the two bones (femur and tibia) as they come together to create a movable joint – the knee. The patella acts as a shield to protect the joint. The kneecap also helps to keep the bones aligned and tracking together as we stand, walk, or run.
The Patella mostly tracks in a vertical motion but it also has some lateral motion which can be altered by improper foot mechanics. Most improper foot mechanics is a result of over-pronation or an excessive inward rolling of the foot when stepping or running. This misalignment of the foot arch results in misalignment of other joints such as the ankle, knees, hip and back. Furthermore, tendons and ligaments become stretched or damaged by such misalignments.
Misaligned feet can cause irritation and pain in the other joints; specifically, the knees, hips and back. If the foot pronates and collapses, the lower leg internally rotates to compensate. The upper leg bone may not rotate equally with the lower leg bone which causes misalignment of the Patella (kneecap) to the point where the joint becomes inflamed and sore.
This soreness, called Patella Tendonitis, can be painful and constant if the source of the irritation is not corrected.
Tendonitis is inflammation in a tendon, usually the result of overuse. The affected tendon continues to function, at least for a while, but there is recurrent pain. You may develop tendonitis if you launch into high-intensity activities such as running or basketball on the weekend, while doing little to maintain your conditioning during the week, or if you increase your running/exercise regimen too quickly and not gradually (say, running 3 miles a day and suddenly increasing to 5 miles a day)
With age, tendons become stiffer and more prone to tendonitis, while supporting muscles become weaker and less able to provide protection. Inflexible hamstrings and quadriceps (often a result of sitting a lot) make someone more susceptible. Tendonitis in the knee can occur in the patellar tendon (most common) or the quadriceps tendon. Dancers, runners who are training vigorously, and athletes who jump a lot are subject to patellar tendonitis, sometimes called “jumper’s knee.”
- Pain above or below the kneecap where the tendons attach to bone
- Pain that recurs with particular activities and eases with rest in severe cases
- Pain that no longer improves with rest
You may actually have other knee problems or injury not associated with patellar tendonitis. For your information, some of these are listed below, including symptoms and suggested issue.
Other Potential Knee Issues
- Did your knee pain or swelling begin after a fall, twisting injury, or after the knee was hit by an object or person?
If the knee looks deformed, your knee may be fractured and/or you may have seriously torn some ligaments (ACL) in the internal area of the knee (Emergency care necessary)
- Is the tenderness over the patella (kneecap)?
If you fell hard on your kneecap it may be fractured. Otherwise it may be bruised or you may have prepatellar bursitis
- Is the knee swollen and filled with fluid, and is it difficult to walk on the leg?
Your symptoms may be from torn cartilage, ligament or chondromalacia patellae. The fluid or “water” in the knee is a reaction to the injury
- Is the tenderness behind the knee, or did you feel something “pop” behind the knee while walking or running?
You may have a torn hamstring muscle
- After the knee is better do you still have a grinding in the joint or does it ever lock?
This may be from torn cartilage
- Is the knee swollen, red or both? Has the knee become tender over many months or years?
Pain and stiffness are often due to overuse or arthritis such as osteoarthritis
- Do you have a swelling in the back of the knee?
This swelling may be from a Baker’s cyst
Patellar tendonitis is not difficult to treat and is usually a short-term issue or inconvenience. Self-treatment is quite easy. If there are body mechanical issues, such as ankle pronation, then these should be looked at professionally; orthotics (arch support insoles) are a necessary intervention so that further damage or discomfort are not experienced.
Rehabilitation for tendonitis includes exercises to improve flexibility and address muscle imbalances that place extra stress on the tendons. You can usually resume normal activities in a few days and more demanding athletic activities in a few weeks, after the pain and swelling are gone and you have regained muscle strength.
- For the first few days, treat with rest, ice, and NSAID pain relievers and inflammation reducers such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve or Anaprox). Note: There are potential side affects when using NSAIDs. For this reason, natural herbal interventions such as Solomon’s Seal are equally useful and have broader benefits, as discussed below.
- A knee support may also provide gentle support during mild activity and recovery.
- Within a few days or week you can resume gentle activities that don’t aggravate the area. If pain doesn’t improve with rest, your doctor may apply a steroid solution over the area and use electrical stimulation to help the medication reach the tendon and reduce inflammation. It is best, however to dedicate recovery to Steps 1 & 2.
- Gentle warm-up and stretching exercises are advisable before any type of activity.
- If there are issues related to ankle pronation and foot arch, consider an orthotic arch support insole to properly align the feet and help in foot arch function. Over-pronation is corrected resulting in proper alignment of the feet and with that, proper alignment of other the joints. If the Patella Tendonitis condition was ignored and left unattended to, the soreness may take a period of adjustment before any relief will be felt. The new correct alignment positioning can be uncomfortable at first but should disappear after a short time while the body adjusts and stabilizes to the new positioning.
THE USE & EFFECTIVENESS OF SOLOMON’S SEAL
The issue of Runner’s Knee is a perfect example of the value of Solomon’s Seal. The herb works well on connective tissues, bones, bursae and synovium, cartilage, and associated inflammation.
Effect on Inflammation
The allantoin in Solomon’s Seal acts as an anti-inflammatory that is good not only for joints but also for inflammations of the stomach and bowels. It soothes irritated or damaged tissues and reduces general inflammation. The mucilaginous qualities help to soothe and ease gastric irritation. The value of Solomon’s Seal cannot be underestimated in those instances where NSAIDs (specifically aspirin) damage the lining (or mucosa) of the digestive tract primarily in the stomach and upper intestine. This damage can result in an ulcer or intestinal bleeding.
Effect on Soft Connective Tissues
The soft connective tissues surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments that are damaged/injured often results in inflammation, swelling and edema. It should be understood that excessive out-of-balance tensions on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can cause unnatural pressures and therefore bony overgrowth into the joint spaces and surrounding tissues. Solomon’s Seal appears to “read” and correct these tension imbalances, working to repair injured tissues while leaving little or no scar tissue. For example, if a tendon is read to be too loose, the tension will be tightened; too tight, the tension will be loosened.
Effect on Synovial Fluid Between Joints
It is speculated that Solomon’s Seal stimulates the body to produce cortisone. A similar belief is that it acts on the synovial glands improving the production of synovial fluid and thus lubrication between cartilage-capped joints (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, fingers, etc). This synovial fluid is slippery and somewhat viscous (it’s been described as “egg-like”), and provides the lubrication so that the ever- moving joints do so freely and don’t abrade or wear at each other. Solomon’s Seal appears to resolve the sensation of friction, grinding, or clicking in joints.
In addition to merely lubricating the joints, Solomon’s Seal softens the outer surface of the cartilage. The joint itself is held in place by tendons, which connect bones and muscles, and ligaments, that connect the bones to bones. Synovial joints exist interdependently with the muscles that surround them. Not only do the joints respond to the will of the muscles, the muscles are also responsive to the goings on in the joints. In any case, the plant possesses a mucilagenous quality that coats and lubricates enflamed tissues while reducing friction and irritation. Solomon’s Seal also helps restore pliancy to tendons and ligaments by supplying moisture to them if they are atrophied. It is specifically indicated for tendonitis and other repetitive motion injuries.
ENHANCING SOLOMON’S SEAL’S EFFECTIVENESS WITH OTHER HERBS
In our intense study and observation of Solomon’s Seal’s palliative effects on various conditions, we have been inspired to integrate its use with other esteemed healing herbs. In our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #1 – Arthritis & Joint Repair, we have combined it with Gravel Root and Pleurisy Root. Gravel Root is specifically indicated for arthritis for it brings minerals into and out of solution, hence its use as a remedy to dissolve and remove deposits in joints. Pleurisy Root is indicated in cases of acute inflammation, arthritis, bursitis, lack of lubrication, or clicking in the joints.
Our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #3 – Cartilage & Tissue Repair is integrated with the highly respected Horsetail plant. Horsetail’s high silica content helps to rebuild damaged cartilage and structures. It strengthens connective tissue, bones, cartilage, mucous membranes, arteries, skin, and other tissue.
Of course, straight Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, attachments, and joints. It is also a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It has many other benefits described in other articles on our website and blog.
THE USE OF SOLOMON’S SEAL SALVE & LINIMENT TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION & PAIN
Reducing inflammation and soothing the pain of tendonitis can be done topically if a pain reliever has the ability to penetrate the skin barrier and contains anti-inflammatory agents. A topical formula will not only relieve pain or inflammation, but also dilate the blood vessels (if it contains natural menthol). This allows for relief of tendonitis, without causing any stiffening of the tissue.
Our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Acute & Chronic Injury Salve is a very effective topical salve, especially when used with our Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment and Solomon’s Seal Tincture, or any of the above mentioned Solomon’s Seal formulas. The salve contains Arnica, Calendula, Comfrey, Horsetail, Mullein, St. John’s Wort and Solomon’s Seal root. Unlike most topicals, however, the herbal properties in our salve permeate deeply through the skin layers into the cellular level of affected tissues.
A good therapeutic liniment is invaluable for pain relief, inflammation and swelling. It is important that it also directs herbs to deeper tissue levels. Our Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment is formulated with the following ingredients (organic) for deep absorption: Witch Hazel, Isopropyl Alcohol, Solomon’s Seal, Comfrey, Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Rosemary, Arnica, Cayenne, Horsetail, Menthol. It can be used regularly during healing and is especially cost-effective for the comforting benefits it provides.
The 3-Step Method:
Combining a Liniment, Salve & Tincture for Healing
When using herbal interventions or products such as a tincture, salve or liniment, we believe that a 3-Step Method is an effective way to address accompanying tissue inflammations, muscle tenderness, or possible joint discomfort. We address this method below, demonstrating the use of our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal tincture, salve and liniment.
Apply Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment topically several times daily, as needed, in area(s) where pain or discomfort is occurring. Apply morning, afternoon, and evening OR before and after periods of activity and again before bed. This will provide short-term relief so that certain activities are less painful or so that you can get to sleep. It is important to firmly rub the liniment for several minutes to stimulate blood circulation in the effected tissue or joint area. This works very well for arthritic conditions or joint issues to increase flexibility. Of course, use lighter pressure for a sprain, bruise, very sore muscle, or painful area.
Cortesia Quick Relief Liniment ingredients (organic): Witch Hazel, Isopropyl Alcohol, Solomon’s Seal, Comfrey, Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Rosemary, Arnica, Cayenne, Horsetail, Menthol
Apply Cortesia Acute & Chronic Injury Salve (or Cortesia Healing Salve) externally to injured area twice daily, morning and evening (apply after the liniment). Wrap or bandage as needed to protect clothing. This is an important long-term method of healing for bruises, strains, sprains, aches, symptoms of arthritis, damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. It perfectly compliments the liniment.
Cortesia Acute & Chronic Injury Salve ingredients: Solomon’s Seal, Arnica, Calendula, Comfrey, St. John’s Wort, Mullein, Horsetail
Note: After applying a liniment or salve, it is very useful to simply lay your hand(s) lightly over the affected area for a few minutes. This form of “touch healing therapy” is therapeutic (see our Blog article Solomon’s Seal and the Healing Effects of Touch to understand more). You can feel the warm or cooling sensation of your injury; you can also mentally visualize healing currents.
STEP 3: Take Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture (or one the above formulas) internally several times daily. Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, muscles, attachments, and joints. It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, repetitive use injuries, and connective tissue damage.
For further information and review of Solomon’s Seal products please visit our website: www.solomonsseal.net
This blog also contains numerous articles that will aid in your further understanding of the usefulness of Solomon’s Seal for a variety of injuries.