How Physical Therapy Plays a Role in Recovery
Knee pain can be caused by disease or injury. Among American adults, approximately 25% have experienced knee pain affecting the function of the knee. The prevalence of knee pain has increased over the past 20 years, with osteoarthritis being the most common cause in individuals over the age of 50. Knee pain that is caused by injury is most often associated with knee cartilage tears. Knee injuries can occur as the result of a direct blow or sudden movement that strains the knee beyond its normal range of movement. Knee pain can cause difficulty performing activities such as walking, rising from a chair, climbing stairs, or playing sports. Physical therapists are specially trained to help diagnose and treat knee pain, and help individuals return to their normal activities without pain or limitation.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Your physical therapist will develop a customized rehabilitation program to ensure a safe return to your desired activities. Some general treatment techniques may include:
Pain Management. Your physical therapist may provide treatments using different “modalities” such as ice, heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help decrease pain and swelling.
Manual Therapy. Your therapist will apply manual (hands-on) therapy to gently guide movement of the knee area to restore joint and tissue mobility.
Therapeutic Exercises. Your physical therapist will prescribe specific strengthening, flexibility, and endurance exercises to address your specific needs and goals.
Functional Exercises. You will learn individualized exercises designed to help you return to your home, work, and sport activities. These also may include balance and coordination exercises.
Self-Care Instruction. Your physical therapist will teach you ways to manage your pain at home and design a safe and effective home-exercise program based on your specific condition, which you can continue long after your formal physical therapy sessions have ended. You also will learn how to avoid placing unnecessary forces on the knee during your daily activities for years to come.