Physical therapy is a key component in knee injury recovery and in the prevention of future injuries.
Effective application of physical therapy varies depending on the type of knee injury and specific diagnosis. In some instances physical therapy can be an alternate to surgical procedures if it creates normal functioning and decreased pain in the knee joint.
The knee joint is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. Every single day, the knee bears considerable weight bearing stress. While walking, the knee joint bears three or four times your body weight and seven times your body weight while climbing stairs (based on data from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)). Such enormous weight bearing force puts your knee at an increased risk of injury. Fortunately, well-planned physical therapy modalities and exercise can help in knee injury recovery.
The type of injury to your knee will influence the type of physical therapy treatment provided to recover. Basically, there exist four common types of knee injuries:
(1) Knee Ligament Injuries- this occurs when the ligament is overstretched (sprain) or ruptured (tear). These form of knee injuries occur due to a single event such as football tackle. The sudden force and twisting of the knee results in the trauma.
(2) Cartilage Injury- this is the most common injury and is usually caused by twisting of the joint or gradual wear and tear. This also is a result of a sudden force within the joint from sports contact.
(3) Muscle Injuries- the muscles surrounding the knee (quadriceps and calf) are overstretched and there are tears within the muscle fibers. Usually caused by overuse, running or jumping.
(4) Patella or Knee Cap Injuries- Fracture or dislocation. Fracture is a breaking of the bone and dislocation is the knee cap is pushed out of its normal position. This occurs with major impact on the knee such as a motor vehicle accident.
After identifying the exact area affected by injury within your knee joint, the next step involves application of the correct physical therapy modes. There exists different types of physical therapy towards knee injury recovery.
(a) Treatment is designed to diminish acute pain and restore normal function. This type of therapy involves the use of modalities and well planned exercises aimed at promoting knee injury recovery.
(b) Physical Therapy aimed at providing maximum protection. On going treatment is designed to prevent future incidences of injuries to the knee. The patient is given an education in maintaining good range of motion and strength of the knee region.
An important element of knee injury recovery is to attend physical therapy 2-3 times per week and perform the exercises at home on a daily basis. The patient must get in the right mindset that rehabilitation takes time and has to be dedicated throughout the process. The physical therapist should be in touch with your doctor to keep him updated on progress.