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Darn Knee Pain!

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

I just got bad knees; this was the comment my newest patient opened his evaluation with this past week. He was seeing me for his chronic knee pain, which had been diagnosed by his doctor as osteoarthritis. Knee Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of arthritis that affects the body, mainly adults 60 years of age or older. My new patient’s knee pain and OA were keeping him from enjoying retirement and working on his house.

At Rehab United Seattle we explain to our patients that you are not your MRI or x-ray. What I mean by this is that we all got wrinkles on the inside and we can’t let those wrinkles control our lives.

When treating OA through physical therapy is important that we re-establish lost motion and strength in your knee and surrounding areas that have been lost due to pain, dysfunction, or inactivity. At our clinic there is a saying “Motion is Lotion” & “Movement is Medicine”. Research backs up this claim as therapeutic exercises have been proven to be one of the most effective interventions for knee OA, aimed at improving neuromuscular control, muscle strength, knee ROM, and aerobic fitness.

I know what you may be thinking right now, but Kelly I have pain when I squat, lunge, and go downstairs. So did the patient that I mentioned earlier in this post. His pain was by far and away the biggest barrier to participating in therapeutic exercise. During our session together we talked about his knee, arthritis, and well as some other restrictions that were causing increased stress to his knee exacerbating his knee pain and arthritis. In this patient’s case, he had a lack of ankle motion due to a past ankle sprain 20+ years ago when he played pick-up basketball. As time went on his body compensated for the injury resulting in more stress on his knees to squat down to pick items off the floor, descend stairs in his house, or when lunging during fitness classes he attended. During his sessions last week, we worked on ankle mobility along with cueing to improve squat patterns. By the time session, 2 ended he was squatting to a chair without any knee pain. Upon completing this activity, he looked at me with a big smile and said “I haven’t sat down in a chair without pain for I don’t know how long”. This brought a smile to my face as well, but I also knew he had it in him if he was placed in the right position to be successful.

To finish out this post I wanted to bring it back to an earlier comment I made, and that was “You are not your MRI or x-ray”. Knee pain can be debilitating and put you in a bad place, the key is to find your success. What can you do without increasing your knee pain to keep your body moving and the “body lotion” pumping through your joints? OA and chronic knee pain is a treatable issue as long as you surround yourself with a great team and an environment that is focused on helping you get back to your goals.

Thanks for checking out this month’s blog and if you have any questions or thoughts for me please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Kelly Vanhove, PT, DPT, ATC, FAFS

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