When you’re knee is sore, simple things like walking and stairs can be tough. To even think about trying to run, even across the street, can be overwhelming.
My name is Steve Gonser, a Physical Therapist at Buffalo Rehab Group, and I have a lot of experience helping people who struggle with knee pain and injury.
Unfortunately, knee pain affects a large percentage of the population. Nearly 25% of adults experience frequent knee pain that changes their quality of life.
For some people, the struggle comes with trying to sleep while the knee throbs. Others toe the line with how much they can walking before their knee calls it quits.
Others have a knee that allows them to get by in their day-to-day, but struggle working in the yard or going for a jog — just like the quote from the patient above, Danielle.
Luckily, there are things you can do to not only improve kneen pain, but get rid of it altogether — even if you have arthritis or meniscus tears.
Many people think that if they just “stay off their knee” it will heal or get better. Others often think that they need to get an MRI to know what’s wrong. Still, others feel they may need to live with pain or eventually have surgery.
But I can tell you that this is often not the truth.
Knee pain can often get better and even resolve using the right recovery and rehab plan.
Here are three ways to improve your knee health, stop the pain, and get back to your day-to-day activities and hobbies:
1. You Should Stay Active
This sounds counterproductive, but too much rest can actually prevent your knee from healing or getting better.
There’s also a misconception that staying active can cause the knee to wear down faster.
It’s not true.
In fact, too much rest or too little activity may actually cause your knee to get worse.
Complete rest and avoiding activity can weaken your knee and cause the muscles around it to get tight. This will keep the knee painful and injured for the long term. Instead, you want to find ways to stay active, strengthen the muscles around the knee, and increase your flexibility.
For most, this means using a series of exercises that are deemed safe and pain-free for the knee — then progressing to harder exercises when the knee begins to feel better.
2. You Should Focus on Hip Strength
What most people don’t realize is that knee pain is often not due to an issue at the knee. Often, the knee is sore and worn down from compensating for other areas of the body.
This is typical you have hip weakness — primarily from the glute muscles.
When the glutes are weak, the knee falls out of alignment and is responsible for extra work with walking, going up and down steps and getting out of chairs. This compensation will break down the knee over time.
It’s also why improving your hip strength is so important. Resting your knee may calm it down, but it never fixes the reason why your knee hurts. You need to support the knee so it can stop compensating. It’s the only way to break the injury cycle.
3. You Don’t Need an MRI or X-Ray
This is the biggest misconception when it comes to treating the knee. Patients say, “Do I need an MRI or x-ray before starting? I want you to know what’s before we start treatment.“
The answer is actually no.
Most knee injuries present in a consistent way. Most often, this allows a Physical Therapist or doctor to diagnose you before you have any imaging.
So what’s the purpose of imaging? To determine if less conservative treatment measures need to be taken, like injections or surgery.
In fact, research has found little to no differences in MRI’s of people who have knee pain and don’t have pain. That means what is found on the MRI may not even be related to your symptoms or limitations.
You should not let the fact that you don’t have an MRI or an x-ray slow you down or delay your healing. You should begin treatment for the sake of your knee and overall health.
While many think that the only option to deal with knee pain is surgery, injections, or dealing with it — you can take a more active role in your recovery.
Most people, just like Danielle from above, can improve their knee health even when they have arthritis and meniscus tears that cause them to limp or struggle with day-to-day activities.
Here are the three ways to improve your knee health again:
- Do not avoid activity. It can actually weaken your leg and increase your pain.
- Focus on improving your hip strength to protect your knee and stop it from compensating
- Don’t wait for an MRI or X-ray to start improving – it rarely influences your treatment and can even have a negative effect on your recovery.
For those looking for personalized guidance on their own knee program so they can get their life back, there is a unique situation that has developed since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic.
In Western New York, insurance companies have removed the barriers for you to get help with pain and injuries. For the first time, telehealth Physical Therapy has been approved to help people struggling with pain and injury.
Some, like Independent Health, BlueCross, and Univera, have even waived patient copayments and deductibles!
This allows residents of Western New York to seek guidance and start treatment from a licensed Physical Therapist without having to leave their home.
Why? Because staying inactive at home and struggling with pain will lead to overall poor health for the community.
So my advice to anyone who’s struggling with their knees — whether it be walking, squatting, sleeping, running or other, is to not wait.
If you want to be ready to resume a normal life after this crisis, now is the perfect time to start working on your own health. You can get help and guidance with an in-clinic visit or telehealth visit at Buffalo Rehab Group.
Here’s what included when you schedule an in-clinic or telehealth visit:
- A full evaluation by a Physical Therapist that includes a diagnosis and peace of mind for what’s actually going on
- Range of motion, walking assessment, and strength testing to learn what needs to be addressed to let you heal
- A custom treatment plan that addresses your needs to stop your pain and helps you get your life back
- Coordination with your doctor to streamline care and ensure you get the result you’re looking for
- Simple and flexible scheduling for both in-clinic and telehealth visits so you don’t have to miss time from work or your family
- Easy setup and attendance for both in-clinic and telehealth visits — you can even use your smartphone for a telehealth visit!
If you’re ready to start improving your knee pain and activity level, you can click on this button now request an appointment:
Or you can call 716-458-1990 to speak to a team member directly.
All the best to you and your family,
Steve Gonser PT DPT
What others are saying about telehealth at BRG…
I was slightly skeptical about using Telehealth for a physical therapy appointment, but I’m so glad I did.
The program was very easy to download and use, and I was sent an information sheet ahead of time letting me know how to prepare for the virtual appointment.
An added bonus was the ability to have the appointment in my home. Between the video call and his whiteboard screen, they were able to gauge my progression and explain the theory behind the next steps in my treatment plan.
It was very beneficial, and kept me moving along in my recovery, I would not hesitate to use Telehealth for future physical therapy appointments.