Prevent Surgery – Physical Therapy for Knee Pain
The knee is a major weight-bearing joint of the body, but unfortunately not a very stable one. We have found that a combination of physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments can go far to rehabilitating a damaged joint; oftentimes removing the need for surgery.
Did You Injure Your Knee Years Ago?
Knees can be injured when we push ourselves too hard in exercise, sports injuries (a classic is when the upper body goes in one direction while the feet and lower leg go in another – ouch!), over time due to stress, or from arthritis (specifically known as osteoarthritis) where the knee joint itself degenerates causing pain, swelling, and limited motion.
Much the same as other joints in the body, proper alignment of the knee is critical. The knees carry most of the weight of the body, therefore stress is increased if the alignment of any of the four bones composing the knee joint is off. Chiropractic and physical therapy can be of great benefit in keeping the knees healthy and pain-free.
Your Knee is Talking; Are You Listening?
Knee symptoms can range from ‘creaking’ when you bend or squat to pain that limits mobility. The former is not a real problem unless pain is associated with it. Any consistent knee pain should be evaluated to determine its origin.
You’ve heard the expression, “weak in the knees.” Well, patients sometimes report that they don’t feel their legs can hold them up, or the knee ‘locks’ or ‘goes out’ every once in a while. These latter symptoms should definitely be checked out because such conditions respond very well to physical therapy treatment. Left untreated, minor knee problems can more easily be injured or develop into major knee problems that become mandatory surgical candidates – something everyone would like to avoid.
Those who are, or have been, active in sports put a lot of pressure on the knee joints and the muscles that stabilize them. Sports that require fast starting, stopping, or quick turns as in tennis and skiing, or repetitive stress as in running or golf, all increase the stress on the knee and can prematurely age it creating osteoarthritis.
While arthroscopic surgery has come a long way and can often ‘clean up’ a degenerative knee, reducing pain and improving function, physical therapy treatment can usually strengthen the muscular supportive tissues enough so that surgery can be avoided without compromising function.
What if You Absolutely Need Surgery?
We also see patients for physical therapy after knee surgery for rehabilitation, and before surgery for surgical preparation. On both sides of necessary knee surgery, physical therapy can prove very useful. We have watched patients who were diligent in their pre-surgery exercise routine recover in record time – with some post-surgery strengthening exercises.
Then there have been less compliant patients who do neither adequate pre-surgery physical therapy preparation nor adequate post-surgery strengthening – they typically suffer ongoing knee pain for months and years following surgery. So, if you are contemplating knee surgery that has been advised by your orthopedic surgeon, we strongly recommend that you ask your doctor about trying physical therapy first.
If it turns out that surgery is the only reasonable course, plan on pre-surgery physical therapy for a month or two prior to your surgery with post-surgery rehabilitation for an additional month or two following. This will ensure the best possible results. You’ll be glad you did.
Knees Rarely ‘Fix’ Themselves
When suffering from minor knee pain, don’t wait until it becomes a major pain. It is unlikely that the pain will go away on its own and it’s unlikely that it won’t worsen as time goes on. Seek physical therapy treatment to strengthen the muscles around your knees while stabilizing the joint to support you in all your life’s endeavors. With strong legs, your mobility can, and should, last a lifetime.
Please contact me if you have any questions or comments. If you, or someone you know, suffer from knee pain, please send them this blog. We’re here to help.
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Dr. Rupa Chakravarty DPT, OCS
Director of Physical Therapy at Root Cause Medical
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Certified Specialist
Dr. Chakravarty has numerous certifications for different techniques in Physical Therapy practice. She employs an extensive array of manual as well as exercise techniques to manage her patients’ symptoms during their course of therapy.