Knee Pain

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Upon returning to exercise, it is common to feel pain in the front of the knee just below the knee cap (patella).  This is a very common complaint among my friends and in my practice.  In physical therapy and orthopedics, this type of pain is generally referred to as patellofemoral pain.  It is related to the way the patella tracks in the femoral groove.  There are many reasons for this to occur:

English: Right knee.

English: Right knee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Weakness of the hip abductors
  • Tightness of the illiotibial band (IT Band)
  • Poor foot control
  • Tightness of the lower extremity musculature (hamstring, quadriceps, and gastroc-soleus complex)
  • Poor form in exercise

Because there are many causes for this anterior knee pain, it is important to get a proper and correct diagnosis from a physical therapist.  If you have pain in the front of your knee, your physical therapist can design a program to help you beat the pain and return to your exercise program.

This month’s Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach has an article that talks about how exercise (done properly) is the best intervention for patellofemoral pain. (Read the Abstract here)

In my practice, I find that a majority of patients require training of the gluteus medius, which is the major hip abductor muscle.  This muscle can become weak due to positioning of the leg during exercise.  If you look at your feet when they move, are they turned outward?  If so, this is the body’s way of compensating for a weak gluteus medius, and forces the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and ITB to do a lot of the work, thus changing the position and angle of the knee bending during gait and squatting/lunging movements.

Here are a few exercises that can be performed to target and strengthen the gluteus medius:

 

Sidelying Hip Abduction:

 

Bridging with Band:

 

Single Leg Balance:

 

Wall Slides/Squats:

 

It is important to remember that, although these exercises may help your knee symptoms, a physical therapist can help treat the cause and individualize a program for you.  Please contact Advantage Physical Therapy to set up an appointment!!!

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Low Back Pain Statistics

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Many of my friends and family, and even myself, have experienced some sort of low back pain.  As a PT, they all ask me “What can you do to fix my back?”  This is always a tough question.  Sure, there are some exercises that will usually help the majority of the population, but each back issue has a root cause that needs to be addressed.  Finding the cause of the back pain by using a thorough history and examination is how physical therapists can design a treatment plan for each INDIVIDUAL.

The vertebral column - Anatomy Français : La c...

The vertebral column - Anatomy Français : La colonne vertébrale - Anatomie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) performed a survey about low back pain.  The results of this survey were very telling.  Here are a few of the key points:

  • 61% of Americans experience some form of low back pain
  • 69% of people with low back pain say it affects some part of their lives (exercise, sleep, and work lead these answers)
  • Men are more likely than women to say back pain affects their ability to work
  • 72% of people with back pain use pain medication to relieve symptoms
  • 55% of low back pain sufferers use heat and/or cold packs for relief

If you are interested in looking more into these numbers from the survey, here is an infographic produced from the APTA

You may or may not know, that most states allow you to see a physical therapist without a prescription.  In Washington State, most insurance companies do allow for and cover direct access to physical therapy services.  Physical therapy can provide exercises for both increased range of motion and spinal stabilization, manual therapy to increase joint mobility and release soft tissue tightness, electric stimulation to help with the pain, ultrasound to help with inflammation, and ice or heat to help treat your symptoms.

It is IMPORTANT to note that proper exercises and stretching can help to prevent lower back pain.  We at Advantage Physical Therapy are always happy to help diagnose and treat your back problems.