Knee problems are one of the most common injuries we see in physical therapy, whether due to a sports-related injury or degenerative changes that occur as we age.
Some of the most common knee injuries include:
All of these cause pain, weakness, and a decrease in functional activities.
Ligament Injuries are more common knee problems that occur among the active patient population. Sports such as soccer and basketball involving jumping, planting of the leg, or changing direction can cause ACL tears. This significant injury requires physical therapy, surgery to repair the tear, and post-surgery rehabilitation to help return the patient to their previous functional levels.
Doctors are prescribing pre-op physical therapy more frequently to increase the range of motion and strengthen the knee. This kind of preparation helps the patient come out of surgery with a better outcome. Rehabilitation following surgery involves:
Later phases of physical therapy address higher-level balance deficits, return to running and sports-specific drills.
These types of knee problems can occur suddenly with sports that involve twisting or cutting. The older patient population is also prone to meniscus tears as degeneration of the meniscus occurs over time. When the meniscus degenerates, your knee has less cushioning and, therefore, less shock absorption.
Recent research has shown that physical therapy should be the first course of action to treat the meniscus. This is because while immediate surgery may help with the pain, it predisposes the patient to osteoarthritis in the long run. When a patient has meniscus surgery, a piece of it is removed and therefore, the cushioning of the joint is removed. This allows a closer approximation of the top leg bone (femur) to the bottom weight-bearing leg bone (tibia), which can cause an earlier onset of arthritis.
Physical therapy works to improve knee:
Therefore decreases pain and improves function.
Finally, the next most common diagnosis we see in therapy for knees is arthritis. Arthritis involves inflammation of the joints which causes:
This can make it very difficult to do normal daily activities such as walking, using stairs, and staying in one position for too long. With knee arthritis, the cartilage around the bones of your knee wears down and becomes frayed and rough. This, in turn, decreases the joint space and causes bone on bone.
Physical therapy is a great first line of treatment for knee arthritis. Physical therapy will focus on restoring range of motion, strength, balance, and decreasing pain to make everyday activities easier. If the arthritis is bad enough, a knee replacement may be needed. If that is the case, patients come to physical therapy before surgery to get as much mobility and strength as possible so that after surgery, outcomes are usually better.
If you are or someone you know is experiencing a knee problem, don’t try to push through the pain and risk further injury. Our expert therapists can evaluate your symptoms and determine the correct course of treatment.
CALL CPT TODAY AT 985-869-7221, SO YOU CAN START HANDLING YOUR KNEE PAIN.
By: Dr. Billy Beaudreau, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, FAAOMPT
If you are dealing with knee pain, call our office TODAY at 985-869-7221 to schedule your evaluation with one of our therapists.