Knee arthritis is when the joints of the knee get inflamed, which can lead to swelling, limited motion, and pain. Arthritis may develop as a result of injury or illness. After being treated by a doctor and perhaps undergoing surgery, a patient may then be forwarded to a physical therapist to help them recover from or manage their symptoms. Physical therapy is often a major component in a comprehensive plan for knee arthritis treatment.
The Role of a Physical Therapist
Essentially, the role of a physical therapist is to assist patients with stretches, exercises, and education so they can recover to the best of their ability after an injury or illness. Physical therapists can teach patients how to reduce strain on the knee joints during their daily routine. A physical therapist helps patients live the best life they can while dealing with knee arthritis.
The Treatment Plan
A physical therapist can design exercises to preserve the use and mobility of the knee joints. They may also teach a patient about proper body mechanics, to prevent causing additional stress and weight onto the knee when picking up or moving items. Posture may be another topic gone over with the patient, as correct alignments help safeguard integrity of the knee joints.
If needed, a physical therapist may suggest a patient uses walking aids such as a cane, walker, or crutches. Those with mild to moderate knee arthritis may want to use a functional knee brace that supports the joint, enabling them to move more freely during walking, or when participating in hobbies like golfing or hiking. How long a patient needs a physical therapist depends on the severity of knee injury and whether a patient is in the post knee surgery stage.
Goals for Knee Arthritis
Examples of common goals in knee treatment physical therapy include preventing use of the knee joint, restoring abilities that were lost, adapting to changes in ability, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and enabling the patient to still perform activities they like doing with minimal assistance from others.
Physical therapy should begin sooner rather than later, to reduce pain, inflammation and prevent stiffness or deformity of knee joints. It is easier to prevent worsened knee arthritis than it is to get the knee back to how it was before. A physical therapist’s focus when it comes to knee arthritis, is often strengthening the muscles in the leg and thigh to help stabilize the knee during use. Once swelling and pain is more under control, a treatment plan may entail gentle exercises to gain muscle strength and promote endurance.
Implementing Stress Reduction
As a knee pain doctor, like one from Premier Osteoarthritis Centers of Pennsylvania, often advises their patients, stress can wreak havoc on the human body. A physical therapist may suggest strategies to decrease how much stress the patient endures on a daily basis. Patients who are prone to inflammation of the knee must consider managing stress as a way to calm the symptoms. Many patients may find that getting outside and bathing in nature can be a great way to center themselves and let go of stress.