Physical Therapy for Knee Pain
What is knee pain?
People of all ages can suffer from knee pain, which can often be triggered by an injury or exercise.
Knee pain can be felt in the front of the knee, on the side of the knee, or in some cases, behind the knee. It’s common for some people to experience mild discomfort and for the pain to get worse as time passes.
For those with serious conditions, surgery or a total knee replacement can be required.
Fortunately, many people can avoid surgery, reduce knee pain and find relief by working with a licensed physical therapist. Knee physical therapy can help reduce knee pain and get you back to the life you want to live.
Knee Pain Symptoms
Knee pain can show up in different ways for different people. Acute knee pain can appear after an injury or exercise. For those with chronic conditions, knee pain may hinder their ability to walk, go up and down stairs, or participate in recreational activities that make up a healthy lifestyle.
Knee pain can present on the top of the kneecap (the patella) or the sides of the knee joint. Knee pain can also be present in one knee or both knees.
Knee pain can feel like:
- sharp, acute pain around the knee joint when you bend or straighten your leg
- a constant, dull ache
- popping or crunching
- buckling, clicking or locking
Knee pain can show up:
- when you go up or down stairs
- during any weight-bearing activity, when you put any weight on your knees, such as standing or squatting
- when you bend or straighten your leg
What causes knee pain?
A wide array of causes can contribute to knee pain. Many people report feeling pain after heavy physical activity, lack of use, sitting in a constrained area or kneeling for a prolonged period of time. An injury, like a sprain and strain, can also cause knee joint pain. Chronic, underlying conditions can also contribute to knee pain.
Common causes of knee pain include:
- tears in the ligaments
- osteoarthritis of the joint
- damage to the meniscus or ligaments
- patella tracking, where the kneecap (aka patella) shifts out of place as the leg bends or straightens
Physical Therapy for Knee Pain
So, can a physical therapist treat knee pain?
If knee pain is slowing you down, it’s worth a call to a physical therapist so you can have some relief! Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to relieve chronic knee pain.
When you begin physical therapy, your physical therapist will create a customized knee conditioning program for you. For many, knee exercises done with a doctor or physical therapist are enough to treat the chronic conditions of knee pain, without requiring surgery or depending on assistive devices for life.
Most physical therapists will create a treatment plan that provides a combination of balance and strengthening exercises for your leg muscles, hips, hamstring muscles, thigh muscles, and everything else connected to your lower extremity.
Can physical therapy get rid of knee pain?
Physical therapy focuses on strengthening muscles around the knees and strengthening the nearby joints, as well. In most instances, physical therapy can help reduce knee pain by preventing the need to use other methods, like surgery, to treat it.
What happens in physical therapy for knee pain?
Your physical therapist will conduct an initial evaluation and determine your pain level. Your physical therapist may also ask about your medical history and if you have had knee injuries in the past.
The physical therapist may then ask you to describe your knee pain. For example, they’ll want to know if you feel pain when you’re in a standing position with legs straight or with a leg bent. They’ll ask if the pain is in one leg or both, and they’ll want to understand the full picture of the pain. Do you feel tightness or pain in your upper body, hip muscles, thigh muscles, or other muscles in your legs?
They may have you perform some knee exercises to best understand your current condition. If you’re able to perform these movements, such as straight leg raises or to slowly lower yourself into a squat, the physical therapist will be able to review your technique and include appropriate exercise elements into your treatment.
At this point, physical therapists will then create the optimal knee exercise program for you and work through personalized knee pain exercises with you. Most of the time, physical therapists will focus on a combination of strengthening exercises that support an increased range of motion, such as straight leg raises, quad stretches, calf raises, and climbing stairs.
Your physical therapist may have you do exercises and stretches to protect your knee and maintain mobility, such as wall squats, leg extensions, straight leg raises, balance exercises, or participate in regular, low-impact exercise, such as walking or swimming.
Can a physical therapist help before or after my knee surgery?
Yes! Whether you’re pre- or post-op, your doctor or physical therapist can show you the best exercises for you to relieve joint pain, increase range of motion, and rehabilitate knee function.
Before surgery, physiotherapy can help increase strength, which will reduce post-surgical recovery times.
Additionally, physical therapy is helpful in recovering after surgery. After knee operations, orthopaedic surgeons may recommend finding a physical therapist near you who is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) affiliated with the American Physical Therapy Association.
Your physical therapist can develop an individual rehabilitation plan for you. This exercise program will help you increase your range of motion, strengthen muscles, improve balance, and help you return to your daily activities.
Ready to move beyond your knee pain?
Are you looking for a physical therapist near you that can help with your knee pain?
If you’re in the East County area of San Diego, Live Life Physiotherapy can help! Live Life Physiotherapy provides customized mobile physical therapy in San Diego to those who need it, where they need it.
Every day, we help residents of La Mesa, El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Del Cerro, San Carlos, and the surrounding areas with their physical therapy needs by removing many of the common restrictions and challenges of traditional physical therapy. Our ultimate goal is to help you live your best life.
If you are limited because of knee pain and ready to live life on your terms, contact us today!