Get Rid of that Nagging Knee Pain Once & For All With Knee Physical Therapy in Fort Myers, FL
Knee pain can be a persistent and debilitating issue, impacting your daily life and mobility. Seeking the expertise of a knee pain specialist in Fort Myers, FL, can be the key to addressing this discomfort once and for all. In this article, we'll explore how knee physical therapy can help alleviate knee issues and prevent the need for risky treatments such as surgery or medication.
The Complexity of Knee Pain
The knee is one of the largest and most intricate joints in the human body, which makes it susceptible to a range of injuries and, albeit less common, infections. Knee pain can manifest in various forms, including pain, instability, weakness, swelling, and popping. However, with specialized knee physical therapy, many of these issues can be effectively managed and resolved.
Knee physical therapy is a safe and effective approach to address knee pain and injury, often negating the need for high-risk interventions like surgery or injections. Many knee problems are rooted in weak muscles, limited flexibility, and restricted mobility. A qualified physical therapist can work with you to restore strength, flexibility, and mobility to your knees, providing long-term healing.
Knee Physical Therapy Can Address Various Knee Conditions
Knee physical therapy is a versatile approach that can benefit a wide range of knee conditions, including post-surgical rehabilitation. This guide will cover essential information about knee physical therapy, offering insights into what you can expect and how it can help you regain optimal knee health.
What you can expect from knee physical therapy
Knee Physical Therapy for Pre-and Post-Surgery Rehabilitation
What to Expect at Your Initial Physical Therapy Appointment
How a physical therapist will determine the cause of your knee condition
Common knee injuries (& their symptoms) treated by physical therapists
Common Knee Physical Therapy Treatments
How to Get Started
What You Can Expect from Knee Physical Therapy
When you consult a physical therapist specializing in knee conditions, you gain access to a healthcare expert with comprehensive knowledge of knee-related issues. Physical therapists are certified professionals who can accurately diagnose the cause of your knee problems and provide the most suitable treatment to facilitate healing.
Knee Physical Therapy for Pre- and Post-Surgery Rehabilitation
If you're preparing for knee surgery, such as total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement), knee physical therapy can significantly expedite your post-operative recovery. Numerous studies have demonstrated that preoperative physical therapy can reduce recovery time post-surgery. In fact, research involving knee replacement patients revealed that preoperative physical therapy is associated with quicker recovery. Therefore, if you're gearing up for knee surgery, it's worth considering both pre- and post-operative knee physical therapy to achieve the swiftest recovery possible.
What You Can Expect at Your Initial Physical Therapy Appointment
During your first appointment, your physical therapist will conduct a thorough examination, including tests and questions related to your knee issues. These assessments are pivotal in making an accurate diagnosis and identifying the root cause of your knee problems. Unlike many treatments that address only the symptoms, physical therapists focus on addressing the cause of knee issues, reducing the likelihood of recurring problems.
Your physical therapist will inquire about your injury during your initial visit, with a focus on understanding what exacerbates or alleviates your pain. Identifying specific movements and activities that affect your symptoms can help differentiate between injuries with similar symptoms. Your input will guide your physical therapist in designing the most effective treatment.
Some factors that may worsen your knee pain include:
Going up and downstairs
Moving uphill or downhill
Bending the knees
Repetitive motion, such as walking or running
Long periods of sitting or standing
Some factors that may make your knee pain feel better to include:
Specific physical activities (for example, swimming, which is considered a no-impact sport)
Your physical therapist will also inquire about the duration of your symptoms. Knee issues tend to worsen if ignored or treated improperly. Neglecting or mishandling an injury can lead to severe complications and increased healthcare costs.
If you've previously attempted treatments for your knee condition, your physical therapist will want to know which ones provided relief and which did not.
Many patients try treatments such as heat/cold packs, medications, rest, or surgery prior to visiting a physical therapist. Often, these treatments are not sufficient in healing the knee injury since they typically don’t fix the cause of the injury.
Your physical therapist can provide you a solution that prevents the knee problems from reoccurring.
Your initial visit includes a physical examination to assess any swelling or signs of physical deformity. This step is crucial for identifying issues that may not be apparent to the naked eye.
Range of Motion Test
You'll undergo range of motion tests to evaluate your knee's flexibility. Stiffness and discomfort often result from limited range of motion in the knee or other areas of the body.
A goniometer, a tool that measures joint range of motion, may be used to gauge your knee's movement.
Functional & Muscular Strength Tests
Functional and muscular strength tests assess how well you can perform physical activities despite your injury.
You'll engage in various activities to evaluate your muscle strength and functionality. These tests are repeated throughout your physical therapy program to monitor progress.
How Your Physical Therapist Will Detect the Cause of Your Knee Condition
Physical therapists combine information from initial questions, tests, and observations to identify the cause of your knee condition accurately. Often, knee problems stem from factors outside the knee itself, such as poor mobility in the feet and ankles or weak muscles in the hips. This complexity underscores the importance of a physical therapist's ability to diagnose and treat knee issues effectively.
Common Knee Conditions (& Their Symptoms) Treated by Physical Therapists
Below are some of the most common knee conditions treated by physical therapists.
Do you have any of the symptoms? A physical therapist will ensure you have a treatment plan that is specific to your condition and lifestyle.
ACL Tears: Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears often occur during sports involving sudden direction changes, such as soccer, basketball, and football.
Athletes who suffer an ACL tear during sport usually hear a loud pop combined with immediate instability and pain in the knee, causing them to fall and grab their knee.
Signs & Symptoms of ACL Tears
A loud “popping” sensation in the knee coupled with pain and instability
Severe pain and inability to pursue physical activity
Rapid swelling around the knee
Loss of range of motion in the knee area
A lack of stability when bearing weight on the affected leg
Knee arthritis is a condition where the knee cartilage of the knee joint gradually wears away. Once the cartilage wears away complete, the underlying bone is exposed and can develop bony spurs that may cause knee stiffness, swelling, pain, clicking, or grating. Symptoms may worsen during weight-bearing activities.
Signs & Symptoms of Knee Arthritis
Knee pain that occurs gradually and feels worse with long periods of inactivity (such as immediately upon waking up)
Knee pain that feels worse with weight-bearing activities such as walking/running, going up or downstairs, kneeling, and squatting
Warmth around the knee
Feeling of weakness in knees and muscles around the knees
Knee Meniscus Tear
A knee meniscus tear is a common knee injury among active adults and athletes. Sports that involve twisting, tackling, or suddenly changing directions put athletes at a higher risk of developing knee meniscus tears. Arthritis and aging can also increase the risk of knee meniscus tears.
Signs & Symptoms of a Knee Meniscus Tear
Pain when walking/running long distances
Popping, especially when climbing up or down stairs
Giving away or buckling
Locking (which occurs when the tear folds in on itself and blocks the full range of motion of the knee joint)
If the muscles surrounding the knee are weak, you may experience pain and discomfort that can prevent you from completing your normal activities. Knee joints bear a lot of our body weight, so normal activities can cause wear-and-tear that lead to weak muscles around the knees.
Some of the most common causes of knee weakness include arthritis, strains, sprains, torn cartilage, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Signs & Symptoms of Knee Weakness
Pain in and around the knee
Pain that worsens with activity, especially ones that require a repetitive bearing of weight such as walking, running, or going up and down stairs
Feeling of instability and weakness in and around the knee
Ligament Strain or Partial Tearing of the Ligament
Ligament is a type of connective tissue that connects bones that are in and around the joints. A ligament strain or partial tear is another injury that affects athletes who quickly change direction during sports.
Weak muscles and/or an ACL tear can lead to ligament strains or partial tearing.
Signs & Symptoms of Ligament Strain or Partial Tearing of the Ligament
Sudden pain that is usually accompanied by a loud “pop”
Swelling that begins within the first 24 hours of injury
Inability to bear weight on the affected leg, or pain when bearing weight on it
A sensation of knee joint instability- “loose”
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)/Runner’s Knee
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a broad term used to describe pain around the patella/kneecap or front of the knee. Runners often call this condition “Runner’s Knee,” because the repetitive impact of long-distance running can cause this condition, which is characterized by pain in the kneecap.
Pain while bending the knee (such as when squatting or climbing stairs)
Pain with prolonged periods of inactivity
Crackling/popping sounds when straightening the knee, such as when standing up or climbing stairs
Pain that may change with different running/playing surfaces, attire/sports equipment, or activity intensity
After a knee operation/surgery, it may take time for the knees to regain stability, strength, flexibility, and mobility.
Physical therapists will help patients speed up their recovery process by designing a program that strengthens, stretches, stabilizes, and mobilizes the knees. Physical therapists can also ease post-operative pain and inflammation without side effects, invasive procedures, or pills.
One of the most common knee conditions is stiff knees. Stiff knees are usually caused by poor range of motion and lack of flexibility. Aging is one of the leading causes of decreased range of motion and stiffness in the knees. Stiff knees can have various causes, but physical therapists are trained to identify and treat the underlying causes of stiffness.
Signs & Symptoms of Stiff Knees:
A feeling of stiffness or pain in or around the knees
Unable to extend the knee past 0 degrees or flex the knee past 110 degrees
Weakness in the knees
A feeling of instability in the knees
Common Knee Physical Therapy Treatments
Your physical therapist will construct a treatment plan that is unique to your knee condition and lifestyle. Many physical therapists use a custom combination of these treatments to treat knee conditions:
Many patients who have knee problems have trouble with bending, lifting, going up and down stairs, and playing their favorite sports. Physical therapists will provide you with functional exercises designed to help you function in normal activities, including sports, again.
The best physical therapists usually incorporate manual therapy into the treatment plan for knee conditions. This is a hands-on treatment where physical therapists can mobilize stiff joints that are causing pain and discomfort.
If tight muscles are the cause of your knee condition, the most advanced physical therapists can perform myofascial release, which is a special manual technique that breaks up the muscle tissues to reduce tightness and pain.
Sometimes, patients need proper education on how to squat, walk, and exercise properly, as well as suitable footwear choices to support recovery. Physical therapists will share their knowledge to help patients recover sooner.
Physical therapists will know how to properly tape the muscles around your knee if your muscles are weak and unconditioned. Taping will help retrain the muscles around the knee to optimally function.
Ready to Knock Out Your Knee Pain? Here’s How to Get Started:
Contacting a physical therapist is the best way to treat most knee injuries.
Physical therapy is often the first-line treatment for many knee conditions, offering the potential to prevent unnecessary surgeries, medications, and invasive procedures. It not only quickly alleviates pain but also provides lasting benefits, making your knees stronger, more flexible, and less prone to re-injury.
To explore the various ways knee physical therapy can help you, consider scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist. Visit our website to find more information about our top-rated physical therapy clinic and make an appointment today.