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Knee Injuries Don’t Just Occur In Sports

Whether it is sports related or just degenerative changes that occur as you age, at one point or another you have probably experienced a knee injury. Some of the most common injuries are osteoarthritis, ligament injuries and meniscus injuries.  All of these cause pain, weakness in your knees and a decrease your ability to participate in some activities.

Ligament injuries more commonly occur with the more active patient population.

Sports such as soccer and basketball that involve jumping, planting of the leg, or a change in direction can cause ACL tears.  This is a significant injury that requires physical therapy, then surgery to repair the tear and then post-surgery rehabilitation to help return you to your previous functional levels.  Therapy before surgery is much more common these days as it can increase range of motion and strengthen the knee. This helps the patient come out of surgery with a better outcome.  Initially, rehab post-surgery involves focusing on increasing range of motion, decreasing swelling and pain and then improving strength.  Later phases of therapy address higher level balance deficits, return to running, and sports-specific drills.

Another common diagnosis for knee injuries is meniscus injuries.

These can occur suddenly with sports that involve twisting or cutting. Older patient populations are also prone to meniscus tears, as degeneration of the meniscus occurs overtime.  When the meniscus degenerates, your knee has less cushioning and therefore less shock absorption.  Recent research has shown that physical therapy should be the first course of action to treat the meniscus.

This is because while immediate surgery may help with the pain, in the long run, it predisposes the patient to osteoarthritis.  When a patient has meniscus surgery, a piece of it is removed and therefore the cushioning of the joint is removed.  This allows closer approximation of the top leg bone (femur) to the bottom weight-bearing leg bone (tibia), which can cause an earlier onset of arthritis.  Therapy works to improve knee range of motion, strength (supports the joint), improved balance, and therefore decreases pain and improves function.

Arthritis involves inflammation of the joints which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.

This can make it very difficult to do normal daily activities such as walking, going up and down stairs, and staying in one position for too long.  With knee arthritis, the cartilage around the bones of your knee wears down and become frayed and rough.  This in turn decreases the joint space and causes bone on bone.  Physical therapy is a great first line of treatment for knee arthritis.  Therapy will focus on restoring range of motion, strength, balance, and decreasing pain in order to make every day activities easier.  If the arthritis is bad enough a knee replacement may be needed.  If that is the case, patients come to physical therapy before surgery to get as much mobility and strength as possible, so that after surgery outcomes are usually better.

By: Devin Wurman, DPT

If you are, or someone you know is having knee pain, don’t try to push through the pain and risk further injury. Our expert therapists can evaluate your symptoms and determine the correct course of treatment. Prolonging treatment can lead to more serious, chronic conditions that take a lot longer to recover from. Our therapists would be happy to help you get back to the activities you love!

Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY, at 703-450-4300, to schedule your assessment.

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