It can be scary. Looking into your knee pain aliment and how best to proceed can feel like the ‘healthy and carefree’ chapter of your life is coming to an end.
However, it doesn’t need to be that way. You don’t need to plunge down a route where surgery and insurance bills dictate your schedule and mood. You can take back control with some assistance from physical therapy. And that’s where Cardin & Miller PT can help.
Don’t come to depend on surgery and painkillers. That’s not going to help or solve the issue. To get to the root of the problem, we need to discover the exact cause of the discomfort in your knee.
It’s not a simple diagnosis as there are many different reasons as to why knee pain occurs. However, we don’t generalize your condition and move you down the line. We take the time to get to know you and determine where your knee pain is stemming from.
The cause of pain is rarely the same between patients. Here’s some of the more common reasons and treatments.
Knee Pain: Damage From Weight-bearing Activities
One of the main causes of knee pain is improper tracking of the kneecap during weight-bearing activities. This occurs when the kneecap moves outwardly and rubs on the outer surface of the bones behind it.
This rubbing and improper tracking is normally a result of the weakness of the hip and thigh muscles, as well as tight muscles surrounding the hip and knee.
Rubbing and improper tracking of the kneecap due to tight and weak muscles causes pain, swelling, and loss of function around (and under) the kneecap.
Knee pain from improper tracking can be resolved with physical therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate you and identify the muscles that are weak and tight, and instruct you on how to perform exercises that strengthen and loosen the appropriate muscles around the kneecap and hip.
These exercises will stabilize the knee cap and allow it to track properly – resulting in the pain-free function of the knee while walking on all surfaces, climbing stairs, squatting, and other weight-bearing activities of daily living.
There are no slam-dunk surgical options for this condition as it is caused by poor mechanics, tight, and weak muscles. It is not usually a structural problem that can be fixed with surgery.
So, don’t book surgery. Speak with us and we can help you!
Knee Pain: Tearing Of The Meniscus
Another cause of knee pain is irritation or tearing of the meniscus. The meniscus is a layer of tissue in between the two bones of your knee that shock absorbs and prevents excess motion at the knee in weight-bearing positions.
The meniscus can become irritated, inflamed or torn – which can lead to pain, stiffness and limited motion/function. Whether you have a meniscal tear or not, physical therapy may also work to resolve this issue as well.
As weak muscles around the knee and hip are strengthened and tight muscles are loosened, this increases the stability around your knee and decreases compression at the knee joint allowing the meniscus to heal and the irritation to dissipate.
There are times when surgery is needed to repair meniscal tears depending on how severe they are and where in the joint space they are located.
For instance, if the knee catches, locks or pops (with pain) during weight-bearing activities and does not improve with physical therapy, then surgery is indicated.
Surgery in this case will repair the meniscal tear followed by physical therapy to reduce pain and build strength as well as restore range of motion, so that you can return to pain-free function.
Knee Pain: Arthritis
Additionally, knee joint arthritis, or inflammation/wearing down of the joint surface, can cause knee pain, stiffness and inability to perform stairs normally, walk without a limp, or get in and out of chairs.
By strengthening the muscles around the knee and hip that are weak, and stretching the muscles that are tight around the knee and hip, you can decrease compression at the knee joint and thus relieve pain. This can help you avoid knee replacement surgery and restore daily pain-free function in most cases.
Another option that can be very helpful in resolving knee pain and avoiding surgery would be the use of a specific knee brace, known as the “gamechanger”.
Oftentimes, people with knee joint arthritis have mal-alignment at the knee which causes the knees to be “bowed” so that you look like you just got off a long ride on a horse when you stand and walk. Or, the joint arthritis can cause you to be “knock-kneed”.
When your knees are bowed, the outside of the knee joint surface and the outer meniscus are separated and the inside of the knee joint surface and inner meniscus are compressed.
The reverse is true when knock knees are the issue, the inside of the knee joint is separated and the outside of the knee joint is compressed. The Gamechanger Brace has a special feature that allows it to pull knock knees back to center or push bowed knees back to center.
By centering the knee, the Gamechanger Brace places equal pressure on the inside and outside of the knee joint versus too much pressure on one side or the other. Thus, the Gamechanger Knee Brace is a great tool to off-load and realign the knee and when used.
In conjunction with the proper strengthening and flexibility program, this can be very effective in helping you to avoid surgery.
Knee Pain: How We Can Help If You Have Surgery
There are certainly times where Knee Replacement Surgery is warranted and thorough careful evaluation of the knee, your therapists at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy can tell you whether you are a candidate for knee replacement surgery – if we believe your situation is beyond the scope of physical therapy.
However, it is vitally important your you to come to Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy for rehab of the replaced knee as soon as possible after your knee replacement surgery.
Getting to work right away after surgery to restore full knee extension (ability to straighten your knee), and as much bend in the knee as possible, will keep you from having lasting issues with your knee permanently.
Most vital is the ability to fully straighten your knee, because without this, you cannot walk with proper mechanics – which will cause issues with your hip, back and knees that you did not start with.
We also help you manage the swelling around your knee after the replacement surgery, which will allow you to straighten and bend your knee sooner.
In addition, we work on restoring strength to your knee immediately so that you can navigate stairs, walk on uneven terrain, and get back to the things you need, want and love to do.
Knee Pain: Patellar Tendonitis
Lastly, Patellar Tendonitis can be especially painful and restrict your ability to perform the things you need, want, and love to do. Not to mention, make it pretty hard to climb the stairs, run or jump.
Patellar Tendonitis is an irritation of the tendon that connects your kneecap to the bone below it, and is usually a result of overuse or poor body mechanics at the hip, knee and or feet.
Physical therapy is the way to resolve this issue. At Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy, as with all of the knee issues mentioned in this article, we will work to determine the root cause of knee pain and then help you attack that cause and resolve it.
As you have likely gathered as you’ve read above, despite the issue you’re dealing with in regards to your knee, physical therapy is a vital piece needed to allow you to resolve the issues you are dealing with and get you back to enjoying life.
Oftentimes, when physical therapy is not utilized for these issues, you end up seeing your doctor who has you take anti-inflammatory pills and tells you to rest.
We all know that anti- inflammatory meds are not a long-term answer, as they can cause issues in other parts of your body, namely your stomach and digestive tract.
Rest is OK initially, but you only feel good until you try to be active again and then the pain returns. Shots typically provide temporary relief of symptoms, but can be used as an adjunct to speed healing if used along with physical therapy.
If you just get shots but don’t address the weakness, tightness and alignment issues at the knee, then the pain will return once the shot wears off because the reason why the problem occurred was not corrected, only the symptoms were being treated.
Knee Pain: Contact Cardin And Miller Physical Therapy
So, the best course of action to take if you are having knee pain for any reason is to call Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy at 717-245-0400, so that we can listen to the issues you are having and evaluate your knee so that we can tell you the next best steps to take to actually correcting the reason why the issue is occurring, then addressing and resolving it.
Upon evaluation, if we find that your condition requires surgery, we will make recommendations to the best surgeon to see for the specific issues you are having and help you get set up for consultation.
If you’re not ready to schedule an evaluation with us, we do offer One-On-One FREE SCREENS with one of our expert Physical Therapists. This will provide you with an opportunity to sit and meet with your potential therapist so that they can hear the issues you are having and tell you the next best step to take to resolve the issue with no obligation.
This allows you to get to know your physical therapist and develop a level of trust as well as get answers to all of the questions you have regarding your knee pain.
If you would like more information, please visit our website at: www.cardinmillerpt.com as there is a plethora of information and videos on our site as to how we can help you with your knee pain.
If you have any questions about this column or any other topic related to physical therapy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.