Knee pain can sideline a patient, whether caused by overuse, injury or surgical intervention. Knee injuries are among the most common suffered by athletes, and knee replacement surgery is one of the most frequently performed joint replacement surgeries conducted by orthopedic surgeons.
Physical therapy can greatly help patients suffering from knee pain, regardless of its cause, through exercises that retrain the use of the joint. In addition, therapy can also act as an effective form of pain management to limit the use of medication or speed recovery after accidents or operations.
Effective Physical Therapy Exercises for Knee Pain
When a patient complains of knee pain, its cause could range from structural issues inside the kneecap or with the leg bones that come together at the knee. Other issues involving cartilage, muscles and ligaments can cause or contribute to knee pain. Physical therapists approach this type of knee pain by evaluating the factors that cause it and designing responsive exercises. This therapy exercise regimen can open up compressed spaces, strengthen the support structure surrounding the knee and reduce inflammation. In each case, the nerve signals that lead to pain are gently shut done as the knee grows stronger and operates more smoothly.
PT Modalities for Knee Pain
Physical therapists may pair exercises designed to combat knee pain with a number of other modalities to heighten pain relief. These modalities can include ultrasound, TENS or EMS stimulation. Each of these modalities sends carefully modulated signals through the affected area around the knee. In the case of ultrasound, a tech will use a special wand around the region and the ultrasonic therapy — a form of sound therapy — to penetrate injured areas and promote tissue healing. TENS and EMS solutions rely on the conduction of electrical pulses that enable muscles and similar structures to contract, then relax. As elasticity rebuilds and tender areas are released, patients may experience relief from their pain.
Additional Physical Therapy Techniques for Knee Pain Management
A third channel of therapy for knee pain after exercise and adjunct modalities is techniques or procedures designed to release areas of pain. These techniques can include chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, deep tissue massage, acupuncture and dry needling. In each area, the root cause or location of the pain is determined through physical and radiological testing and targeted to bring about pain relief. These techniques can be very effective in pain management and greatly reduce reliance on medication, particularly when combined with other modalities and exercises.
- Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation works to provide a quick release in affected areas and can be performed by trained doctors who work in conjunction with physical therapy centers.
- Deep tissue massage can be offered by therapists who have undergone related training or by certified professionals who focus primarily on massage; it works through manual stimulation to relax areas known to cause pain around the knees.
- Acupuncture and dry needling can be offered by trained therapists who use very small needles to target pressure points or knots that may be the root cause of pain. The needles help those areas release, which can result in rapid pain relief.
Don’t live with knee pain a day longer than you must. Partner with your physical therapy center to accurately diagnose the cause of your pain so trained therapists can build you a custom plan to thoroughly address it. If you’re dealing with knee pain, talk to your doctor about physical therapy or contact the therapists at Ferrell-Whited to request an appointment.