Physical Therapy For Knees

Peak Fitness reports that arthroscopic knee surgery is often unnecessary, and may be one of the most un-needed surgeries performed today. About 510,000 people in the United States undergo arthroscopic knees surgery every year. Osteoarthritis of the knee is the leading cause for knee surgery, however new research indicates physical therapy may be just as good as surgery.

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a degenerative join disease. The cartilage that covers the ends of the knees bones deteriorates causing bone to rub against bone resulting in pain. Arthroscopic knee surgery is also routinely performed for patients who suffer a torn meniscus, a structure that acts as a cushion within the knee. Yet, physical therapy has proven to be an equally effective treatment here as well.

Mens Journal says patients who experience knee pain should try physical therapy, rather than simply opting for surgery. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that physical therapy is often just as effective for healing meniscal tears as going under the knife. Consider that recovery from surgery is typically slow and painful it just makes sense to try therapy first, unless of course the situation clearly warrants surgery.

Whether you opt for surgery or therapy it is a good bet you will need to wear a knee brace to stabilize the injury. There are many knee braces to choose from, including the x-tended plus size knee brace, universal knee braces, wrap around braces, sports brace, and performance knee supports. Your therapist will guide you on the best choice for your particular injury.

Dr. Edward Laskowski who is the co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center says many knee injuries can be successfully treated through physical therapy. However, if you suffer a torn ACL reconstructive surgery is probably the best bet. Other types of injuries can be individually evaluated and may respond favorably to therapy if the patient seeks help quickly. Dr. Laskowski says the general rule to follow is if you experience pain but can move your leg you should give physical therapy a go over a surgical procedure. The more range of motion you have increases the likelihood that therapy can correct your knee problem.

While no one expects to injure a knee there are specific exercises you can do to reduce the chance of injury. The key element to avoiding injury is to stretch and strengthen muscles that support the knee. Physical therapist Chantal Donnelly a certified Pilate’s instructor offers some useful exercises to get your knees in shape.

First, you should strengthen your gluteus maximus. Weak gluteus maximus muscles create downward stress on the hips, knees, and ankles with each step taken. Hip extension exercises can be performed to strengthen this weakness. Second, you should stretch the muscles that support the knees. A weak gluteus maximus forces hamstrings and the inner thigh muscles to overwork, causing tight muscles. Stretching makes these muscles more pliable. The third exercise group you should keep in shape is the core or abdominal muscles. Weak abdominals causes the pelvis to tilt forward which causes lower back curvature. However, when you keep the core muscles toned your back remains in an ideal neutral spot and this places the legs and knees in their best function position.

Finally, maintaining a healthy weight will make your knees feel better, because fat reduces muscle strength and being over-weight places unnecessary stress on the knees. The best way to reduce fat is through aerobic exercise. You can exercise without adding additional knee stress by engaging in water aerobics, cycling, or an elliptical trainer.

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