Knees allow us to sit, stand, walk and play sports. Knee function can be affected by sprains and strains, tendinitis, torn menisci, ligament injuries and arthritis. Severely diseased knees can be replaced surgically and return patients to most activities with a course of Physical Therapy.
Physical Therapy for Knee Problems
- Assess knee flexibility and strength
- Determine knee function in gait
- Formulate a plan of care taking into account, patient goals and needs
- treat and reassess
Menisci become torn when the knee is twisted during sports or a fall . A surgeon may repair the meniscus, or may trim the torn area so that the knee can function normally. Following surgery, a patient may have weakness, swelling and discomfort. A short course of PT will get the patient back to all their usual activities including sports.
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL stabilizes the tibia in relation to the femur. When the ACL is torn, the knee becomes unstable and weak. ACLs can be repaired using part of a patients tendon or using a tendon from a cadaver. PT following ACL surgery follows a strict protocol designed to protect the new ligament as it heals and becomes a functioning component of the knee.
The kneecap or patella sits in a groove on the front of the femur. Ideally, the patella should slide up and down the groove with even pressure on both sides. When the patella exerts uneven pressure on the inside or outside of the groove, that area becomes uncomfortable. There are many ways to correct this in PT including stretching, strengthening, taping and footwear adjustments. Expert assessment of gait is required to effectively treat this condition.
Knees can wear out with age, inflammatory arthritis, infections and injuries. Knee replacements are one of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgeries in the USA. Physical therapy following knee replacement focuses on restoring flexibility, strength and function. With an effective Physical Therapy program, patients can expect to return to all their usual activities within a few months of surgery.
Partial Knee Replacements
Partial knee replacements can be done if the damage in the knee is limited to a small area. This type of surgery is usually done on younger patients and offers patients an quicker recovery and better preservation of function post operatively
All joints are supported by muscles. Arthritis can be helped by strengthening the muscles that support and move the joints. A physical therapist can assist patients with arthritis to increase function and decrease pain in arthritic joints by planning a rehabilitation program designed to increase joint support without causing pain.