Tag Archives: knee pain

True or False: Changes in the Weather Can Make Your Joints Stiff or Achy

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For many people, the flare-up of an arthritic knee or shoulder appears to signal a change in the weather—usually hinting that a storm is imminent.

The belief that achy joints accompany a weather change is so widespread, in fact, that it has just about been accepted as reality. Many doctors listen to patients complain that they experience stiff or aching joints before, during, or after changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or humidity.

Yet, in spite of the widespread belief in a connection between aches and pains and inclement weather, medical researchers have come up with little evidence to support it.

Evidence for the Health Claim
Changes in the weather such as barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature could theoretically affect the synovial fluid that lines and lubricates the joints if, for example, they had a chemical effect on the fluid which somehow increased inflammation (which causes pain). However, there is no conclusive evidence that supports this theory.

Since at least the mid-1800s, a number of medical, and so-called bio-meteorologic research studies have been carried out in an effort to establish a connection between health and changing weather conditions.

The results of these studies have been varied. Based primarily on a compilation of patient anecdotes (reports of arthritis sufferers, for instance), increased barometric pressure (in fair weather conditions) has been associated with increased joint pain. Conversely, others studies have shown a relationship between increased joint pain and decreased barometric pressure (in stormier weather). Still other studies have suggested that changing weather conditions can cause immediate pain in some patients and delayed pain in others.

weather changes

Evidence Against the Health Claim

It is important to note that because most studies on this subject have been based on anecdotal reports rather than carefully designed observational studies, their conclusions don’t constitute reliable scientific evidence. Furthermore, many doctors claim that the wide variety of arthritic conditions and sheer complexity of atmospheric variability makes coming up with meaningful connections between joint pain and weather conditions next to impossible.

There is also a psychological aspect to this belief. What are the chances that the connection between health and the weather is simply coincidental? Is it possible that arthritis sufferers link their stiff and achy joints to changes in the weather as a way of explaining an otherwise mysterious exacerbation of their condition? Some doctors suggest that patients who observe weather conditions when they experience pain may pay little or no attention to the weather when they don’t have any pain.

Furthermore, there is no definitive evidence that moving to a warmer or drier climate provides a cure for aching joints. Some doctors report that many patients claim that the pain disappears for a while, only to return a few months later.

by Rhianon Davies

REFERENCES:
Aches and Pains Index. UK Weather Channel Interactive Web site. Available at http://uk.weather.com/activities/health/achesandpains/achesandpainsindex.html. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Cold Weather Can Cause More Aches and Pains for Arthritis Sufferers. Marshall University Orthopaedics Web site. Available at http://musom.marshall.edu/medctr/orthopaedics/cold weather.asp. Accessed July 25, 2006

Shmerling RH. Whether Weather Matters For Arthritis. Available at http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/8799/9273/35323/341624.html?d=dmtHMSContent. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Joint Pain. Any Connection? Mayo Clinic Web site. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/joint-pain/AN00102. Accessed July 25, 2006.

Weather and Our Physical Health. BBC News Web site. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/weatherwise/living/effects/. Accessed July 25, 2006.

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

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How Physical Therapy Helps Knee Rehabilitation

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PT&Me Knee Rehabilitation

Physical therapists can provide more than pre/post surgical knee rehabilitation for patients experiencing knee pain.

What Causes Knee Pain?
The knee is a relatively simple joint required to do a complicated job…to provide flexible mobility while bearing considerable weight. While walking down the street, our knees bear three to five times our body weight. When the knee is overstressed in sports or in everyday activities, these structures can break down — and a knee injury occurs.

Common Knee Problems Seen by Our Physical Therapists:

  • Strain / Sprain
  • Arthritis Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Ligament Sprains
  • ACL Tears
  • Tendinitis (ie: Patellar, Pes Anserinus)
  • Chondromalacia Patella
  • Patellofemoral Syndrome / Knee Pain
  • Pre / Post Operative Therapy

How Physical Therapy Provides Knee Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation acutely after knee surgery or a knee injury primarily centers around decreasing swelling in the knee joint. Even a small amount of fluid inhibits the quadriceps muscle on the front of knee by slowing the signal for movement traveling from the brain to the muscle. Manual techniques to decrease muscle spasm and improve length tension relationships of soft tissue are also incorporated. Gradually, exercises to increase strength, range of motion and functional mobility are introduced.

Treatments Offered Include:

  • Comprehensive evaluation with an emphasis on determining the source of the problem
  • Individualized and specific exercise programs
  • Manual therapy (hands-on treatment)
  • Modalities as needed
  • Work and sport specific simulations
  • Progressive home program to help restore independence and self-management

Knee Rehabilitation Goals:

  • Reduce Pain
  • Improve Mobility
  • Movement Awareness/Gait Training
  • Functional Strength
  • Patient Education

For more information on knee injuries visit our PT & Me Knee Injury Center page by clicking here.

The PT & Me Injury Center goes over diagnoses on how physical therapists treat specific injuries.

To find or search for a local participating PT & Me physical therapy clinic in your local area please click here.

total knee replacement

Physical Therapy Following a Total Knee Replacement

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There are over 600,000 total knee replacements done each year in the U.S. As the workforce ages and as obesity levels continue to rise, this number is expected to increase.

Candidates for a knee replacement include patients experiencing difficulty doing simple daily activities, including walking or going down steps, and where conventional treatments are no longer helping. Common causes that lead to a replacement include pain with simple ADL’s (activities of daily living), pain at rest, chronic swelling, inflammation not improving with medication, knee deformity, knee stiffness, or trauma to the joint. When you are scheduled for a total knee replacement, ask to see your physical therapist for a pre¬surgical exercise and stretching program. This will help your knee recover its range of motion and strength.

Surgery consists of resurfacing the knee’s damaged and worn joint surfaces with artificial parts made of metal or plastic. Most patients are in the hospital for an average of 3¬5 days. And more than 90 percent of people report significant decrease in pain and improvement in ability to perform ADL’s within one month after surgery. Currently, many knee replacements are lasting 20 years or more with appropriate activity modification. One of the most important factors in success after a total knee replacement is follow up with physical therapy and a lifelong exercise program. Physical therapy typically starts during the hospital stay with the goals being to get the individual up and walking decreasing swelling in the knee and increasing knee ROM (range of motion). Upon hospital discharge, patients either go home and receive home physical therapy for one to two weeks, or to an extended care facility to continue their therapy.

Typically, patients need outpatient physical therapy after therapy at home, which usually begins two to four weeks after surgery. Outpatient physical therapy is recommended for three times a week for up to three months. Therapy goals initially are to reduce swelling and pain, and improve knee range of motion in both directions. To achieve these goals, treatment may consist of soft tissue massage to increase circulation and decrease swelling, stretching to improve flexibility, patellar mobilization, range of motion exercises, and modalities such as ice and electrical stimulation to help decrease pain and swelling. Physical therapy will progress to lower extremity strengthening exercises, balance activities, and fine tuning the gait pattern. Various activities and techniques will be used to improve strength, balance, and gait. As patients reach the end of their course of physical therapy, a personalized home exercise program is developed with the focus on independence with all ADL’s and returning to activities such as walking, swimming, dancing, golf, and biking. It is important for patients to stay active and maintain strength, flexibility, and endurance.

PT News

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This Month in PT News. Featuring articles from PTandMe partnering clinics!

1. Foot Pain in Dress Shoes
Written by the Therapy Team at the Jackson Clinics Physical Therapy – Northern Virginia

Have you ever had a long anticipated night on the town spoiled by sore feet? The source of your discomfort just might be those pretty shoes you have chosen to wear. Read more

2. Knee Pain… Could it be Patellar Tendinitis?
Written by the Therapy Team at Denali Physical Therapy – Anchorage, AK

What is Patellar Tendinitis?
The patellar tendon is a ligament that connects the shin bone to the patella that helps the muscles extend the knee. Read more

3. ARC Physical Therapy+ Expands with a New Clinic in Urbandale, Iowa
Written by the Therapy Team at ARC Physical Therapy – Urbandale, IA

ARC Physical Therapy+ is pleased to announce the opening of a new clinic in Urbandale, Iowa on September 25th, 2017. This makes the third ARC Physical Therapy+ clinic in Iowa and the 18th clinic across Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. Read more

Seeing a Physical Therapist After an Accident

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Anyone who has been involved in an accident and is now struggling to cope with a resulting injury should seriously consider visiting a physical therapist. The documented benefits of physical therapy are numerous, and in many cases physical therapists are able to greatly improve their patients’ quality of life. Whether you are mildly hurt or are suffering from a long-term debilitating injury, read on to learn what physical therapy is, which types of accident injuries physical therapists commonly work with, and about the numerous benefits of physical therapy

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitation aimed at bringing injured patients back up to their optimal level of health via various treatments and exercises. Physical therapists create patient specific plans designed to enable the patient to perform their daily tasks at the highest possible level of function. While a physical therapist will set different goals for different patients, common goals of therapy include:

  • Improving physical function and movement
  • Decreasing/managing the patient’s pain
  • Preventing re-injury
  • Increasing the patient’s strength, endurance, range of motion and flexibility

Wondering how physical therapy helps achieve these goals? While different therapists may approach these goals in slightly different ways, physical therapy programs rely mostly on progressive exercises and manual therapy in order to reach a patient’s goals. For example, a therapist will generally start you out with simple stretches and gradually work towards more challenging exercises tailored to suit your injury, limitations, and recovery goals. Additionally, manual therapy, such as soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization, can help decrease a patient’s pain, reduce swelling, and restore motion.

Accident Injuries that Physical Therapists Commonly Work With

While physical therapists are well equipped to assist patients with minor as well as serious injuries, many people who visit a physical therapist in Houston do so because of a long-term debilitating injury that they suffered as a result of a boat, truck, or car accident. For example, physical therapists commonly work with patients who have been involved in an accident and are suffering from:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Arm and shoulder pain
  • Leg and knee pain
  • Foot and ankle injuries
  • Hand injuries
  • Decreased range of motion

car accident

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Individuals who are injured in an accident often find that attending physical therapy improves their well-being in a number of different ways. While each case and each patient are different, the benefits commonly associated with physical therapy include:

  • Pain Management: Many people who are injured in an accident attend physical therapy primarily in order to reduce or eliminate the pain caused by whiplash, disc herniation, fractures, and other injuries. The therapeutic exercises and manual therapy techniques utilized by physical therapists are often able to help reduce a patient’s pain and allow them to rely less on pain medication.
  • Can Help Avoid Surgery: In some circumstances physical therapy has been known to help a patient avoid having surgery altogether. This can be beneficial as surgeries sometimes involve a lengthy recovery, not to mention the inherent risk of undergoing the surgery itself.
  • Quickens Recovery: Individuals who attend physical therapy after an accident often recover much faster than they otherwise would have. Additionally, these individuals also tend to ultimately achieve better range of motion and muscle strength than those with comparable injuries who did not attend rehab.
  • Helps Prevent Chronic Pain: People injured in car accidents often suffer from chronic pain and other symptoms long after the accident occurred. Additionally, some car accident injuries, if left untreated, will worsen over time. Fortunately, accident victims who promptly attend physical therapy tend to experience much less chronic pain than they otherwise would.

Of course, if you have been injured in a wreck due to another person’s negligence, you may wish to speak with a car accident lawyer for help. Indeed, an attorney can help advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation necessary to pay for your recovery.

feet cause pain

Can Your Feet Cause Pain in Your Knee, Hip or Back?

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Can your feet cause pain in other areas of the body?  Yes it can.  The foot is an arch and arches decrease compressive forces by distributing them across the span of the arch. Engineers use arches in building and bridges to hold up greater weight across longer spans.  The human foot has 3 arches that all work together to distribute the forces our bodies put on it.  This allows us to walk, run and jump.

We start running into problems when the arch is either too flat or too high – causing the forces put through the foot to be abnormally distributed, resulting in strain.

  • Flat feet limit the range of motion of our ankle, causing our hips to rotate inward and move towards the center of our body.
  • High arches do the opposite to our hip joints.
  • These changes cause strain to our ankle, knee and hip joints, and our back.

knee pain

People can be unaware that their feet cause pain throughout the body because they were born with flat feet or high arches and they do not know what “normal” feels like.   As physical therapists we have treated many children who didn’t realize that their feet are not supposed to be sore.  But instead of seeing them for prescribed foot pain, they come for pain in their joints or back.

Orthotics were developed to correct or adapt to changes in the foot.  Orthotics should be fitted by a healthcare professional trained in assessing the foot and gait.  Standing on a pressure plate in the store is not good enough.  Why?  If your foot hurts are you going to stand on it normally?  Probably not.  This results in an abnormal reading.

An orthotic by itself is not the best treatment.   A physical therapist will assess your function, strength, flexibility and range of motion.  Patients will present with other problems as the result of abnormal arches.  Treatment with orthotics combined with strengthening and stretching exercises, balance training, functional training and manual therapy is necessary to restore full function.

This article was written by Scott Van Bramer, PT, Partner/Clinic Director of Phoenix Physical Therapy.  Phoenix Physical Therapy is an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Canal Winchester, OH. For more information about Phoenix Physical Therapy in Canal Winchester, please call the clinic directly at 614-834-2995 or visit them online at www.phoenixptohio.com

Recovering from knee surgery

Self-Care: Safe Positions & Movement After Knee Surgery

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ACTIVITY GUIDELINES
Recovering from knee surgery does not have to prevent you from moving or taking care of yourself. Listed below are guidelines on how to do some common movements and activities without hindering the healing process.

SLEEP & POSITIONING
• It is very important that when recovering from knee surgery you get enough rest following your surgery. If you cannot get comfortable in your bed, please talk to your therapist.
• Sleep on a bed with a firm mattress. Ideally, the bed should come up to your mid-thigh while you stand.
• Sleep flat on your back and position your leg so your toes and kneecaps point at the ceiling.
• Do not place pillows under your operative leg. If you wish to elevate your leg, support the whole leg with pillows while keeping the knee straight.

Sitting Up In Bed:
• If possible, get out of bed toward non-operated side so that the operated leg is supported as much as possible.

From Sitting on the Side of the Bed to Standing with the Walker:
• Straighten the operated leg in front of you before standing.
• Ensure you have good sitting balance with the walker close in front of you.
• Push up from the bed with both hands and keep weight on the non-operative leg.

From Standing to Getting Into Bed:
• Sit down on the edge of the bed; place at least one hand on the bed as you lower yourself. Remember to keep the operated leg further ahead to avoid straining it.
• Enter your bed leading with the operated side if possible.
• Bring your legs onto the bed while lowering your upper body with your hands then elbows.

BATHING/SHOWERING:
You may shower in a bathtub or shower stall only after your doctor has given their permission.

Getting Into the Tub to Take a Shower:
• Have the tub bench or tub chair placed in the direction facing your shower faucets.
• Using your walker, back up to the bench.
• Reach back with one hand to the bench and sit down with your legs outside of the tub.
• Place one leg at a time into the tub.

Getting Out of the Tub:
• While seated on the tub bench/chair turn your body and place your legs one at a time outside of the tub.
• Push up from the tub bench and stand using both hands on the walker.

knee brace

TOILET TRANSFERS:
When recovering from knee surgery the low surface may cause excessive painful bending at the knee. If this is the case, your therapist may help you with getting a raised toilet seat or a three-in-one commode that can be used over your toilet.

Getting Up and Down From a Toilet:
• Back up to the toilet.
• Reach back for the armrests/raised toilet seat/seat.
• Slide your operated leg slightly forward and lower yourself slowly onto the toilet.
• To stand, use a grab bar or place your hand at the middle of the center bar of the walker.
• Stand up and get your balance before placing both hands on the walker.

DRESSING:
• Put on your top or shirt as you normally would while seated.
• Do not twist the knee too much when dressing or putting on shoes.
• Your therapist may recommend a sock aid, dressing stick, reacher or long-handled shoe horn to help with dressing.

STAIRS:
You should only try to go up or down stairs when your doctor or therapist says it is okay. Do not try to use stairs while using a walker.
• When going up the steps, first step up with your non-operative leg, followed by the operative leg.
• When going down steps, first step down with your operative leg, followed by the non-operative leg.
• Complete only one step at a time and always have help.

CAR TRANSFERS:

While you are recovering from knee surgery you will need someone to help you with getting in and out of the car for both your safety and comfort. The seat would ideally be at the height of your mid thigh. Avoid cars with low or bucket seats.
• Have someone slide the seat back as far as possible prior to entering the car, preferably on the front passenger side.
• Slightly recline the seat back if possible.

physical therapy

Try Physical Therapy First

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Benefits of Physical Therapy Over Pain Killers and Surgery:

  • Conservative treatment with physical therapy has no side effects
  • Treat the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms
  • The best effect is getting you more involved in a healthy lifestyle
  • Affordable and covered under most insurance plans

As Physical Therapists We Provide:

  • Improved awareness
  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Education and exercise designed to prevent future injuries
  • A program that increases your overall strength and flexibility
  • Modifications of movement for daily living

spine doctor

DID YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU HAVE…

BACK PAIN
If you are experiencing physical pain going to physical or occupational therapy for a musculoskeletal screening first may result in long term solutions without the use of expensive prescriptions or tests such as MRI’s, and reduces the risk of re-injury.
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22614792/

KNEE INJURY
Physical Therapy is equally effective In treating degenerative knee disease. One of the most common orthopedic procedures in the United States — knee arthroscopic surgery — is proving to be an unnecessary course of action for many patients who have a torn meniscus in their knee.
Source: New England Journal Of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1305189?query=featured_home&

CONCUSSION
Physical Therapists are key to helping in the recovery from concussion by monitoring the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of an athlete to determine when they are no longer symptomatic.
Source: http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/post-concussion-treatment-physical-therapy-can-help

We understand that you are concerned with maintaining your health. So ask your medical provider if physical therapy is the right choice for you. By trying physical therapy first, it is likely that you can reduce or remove the need for surgery, as well as remove the risk of dependence on prescription pain killers.

Anatomy of a “Bad Knee”

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The knee is a relatively simple joint required to do a complicated job…to provide flexible mobility while bearing considerable weight. While walking down the street, our knees bear three to five times our body weight. When climbing upstairs, that force can multiply to seven times our body weight. That force is borne by compact structures of bone and cartilage, supported by muscles and ligaments. When the knee is overstressed in sports or in everyday activities, these structures can break down — and knee injury occurs.

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