Physical Therapy for Knee Conditions
Individuals with knee conditions may benefit from physical therapy to minimize pain and restore movement. After the initial treatment, physical therapy may help restore strength and movement and allow patients with knee-related conditions to gradually resume their regular activities.
With some conditions, such as a torn meniscus or torn ACL, surgery may be necessary to repair the knee. After surgery, when the patient leaves the hospital, crutches are necessary for about six weeks. A physical therapist will work with the patient to make sure that he or she is using crutches safely. A physical therapy program will help the individual regain strength and range of motion to the knee. Physical therapy often begins shortly after surgery to help restore strength and movement and allow patients to gradually resume their regular activities.
Initial physical therapy treatments may include ice, electrical stimulation and massage, to help control pain and swelling. As the healing begins, exercises may be used to increase movement and mobility. Physical therapy exercises focus on improving the strength, control, and movement of knee and leg. Treatment may include:
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Gradual weight-bearing activities
- Range of motion exercises
- Balance training
The physical therapist may also use hands-on stretches and show the patient exercises to improve knee range of motion. Balance exercises may be used to stabilize and control the knee. Strength exercises focus on key muscle groups including the buttock, hip, thigh, and calf muscles. Endurance exercises may also be introduced with the use of a stationary bike or lap swimming. Exercises are sometimes performed in a pool because the buoyancy of the water helps people to exercise safely without putting too much pressure or tension on the healing tendon. The physical therapist may also make suggestions and create exercises for increasing flexibility as well as advise patients on how to perform daily activities and exercises without endangering the area of repair.
After recovering from a knee-related injury or condition, most individuals must adjust their activity levels to avoid placing too much strain on the knee, in order to keep the joint healthy for as long as possible.