Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Penrose of Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy
Spring has arrived and it is the time people clean up their yard, houses, and get to gardening. It is also the time of year that I see more knee pain! I want to share some tips for knee pain and a patient story that I hear quite frequently.
Nancy gave us permission to share her story. Let’s see if you can relate to her story. “I thought my knee pain was just due to age or arthritis,” she shared. “I didn’t want to bother the doctor about it.” Nancy was 62 years old when she came to see us for knee pain and she is a retired nurse. She suffered with knee pain for three years before seeking help. When she could no longer play on the floor with her grandkids she finally decided she couldn’t just “live” with it!
In her words: “I had no idea that my knee pain was not the joint, but a hamstring issue that was easily resolved with physical therapy! The hands-on treatment and the exercises work! Even if you think nothing can be done, think again!”
You see we did a very thorough evaluation to find that her hamstring was more at fault than the knee joint. We do the same orthopedic tests that orthopedic surgeons do and we are able to diagnosis if it is soft tissue or joint. Nancy did have an x-ray prior to coming to physical therapy confirming no arthritis, so she was fairly shocked. However, her doctor was not able to tell her what tissue specifically was causing her pain like we did, why it started, or what to do about it to prevent it again. The doctor left that up to us. Family doctors are great at what they do, which is looking out for disease issues and ordering the correct tests and referring you onto specialists like us.
Now why did her hamstring bother her for three years? Well, we listened to her story and come to find out she had been working at the gym with a trainer. That is awesome! We love to hear people staying committed to their health. However, there was a particular exercise that kept bothering the back of her knee/leg and she continued to “work through the pain” because she thought that was what she was supposed to do. She did not make the connection that that exercise was actually keeping the hamstring muscle strained causing her knee pain later. We hear stories like this all the time! “I just thought it was no pain no gain” and yes that is partially true, a good work out should leave you sore, but there is a difference in causing a strain versus building more strength.
She was relieved to know that her knee pain was treatable. We were happy to help Nancy in five weeks’ time. She is now able to get up and off the floor easily without pain. She is so glad that she didn’t chalk it up to “age” or “it is what it is.” Do not ignore pain! Many times, the pain you fear and the cause of it is not what you think it is! Even if you are in healthcare field like Nancy, you may be surprised at what physical therapy truly does. Physical therapy helps you get back to your life with improved mobility and less pain. It is not just for after surgery or major trauma. We are here to help you with that annoying pain that seems to stick around and slowly starts to impact your quality of life where you slowly start to avoid things or slow down compared to others. My advice is if you have had pain for two weeks and it is not improving come see us. There is no need to suffer longer. Life is too short.
Nancy can now play on the floor with her grandkids and enjoy traveling and retirement! Thanks, Nancy, for letting us share your story!
And even if you do have arthritis in your knees, we have helped many people gain strength and mobility that they didn’t think was possible. It is hard sometimes to figure out on your own which exercises are the ones that won’t stress the knee joint, which ones are most effective, and that a few changes with your walking can decrease the impact at the knee joint. And how about the hips? If your hips are weak then they don’t help support the knee during walking and you have limited shock absorption. And how about your foot structure? If you had certain inserts that helped absorb impact by 25% wouldn’t that be meaningful to you? We look at your hips, knees, legs, feet, and gait/walking to see what all we can affect to help decrease knee pain. There are so many details we look at besides the knee. We are like mechanics with the human body and when you affect one area it has an effect elsewhere. If you have knee pain you might need a “tune up” that would decrease your pain and help you function better!
If you want our free knee pain tips report you can download it directly here. For more information, visit the Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy website.
We are located near Walmart and Big 5 Sporting Goods in Hawks Prairie.
1445 Galaxy Dr. NE Suite 301, Lacey