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Guest Blog: Improving Knee Function with a Comprehensive Physical Therapy Program

Have you been told that you have both osteoarthritis (OA) and a meniscus tear?  Before you schedule a surgery, take a look at this recent research…

Dr. Jeffry Katz, of Harvard University, and his colleagues performed research and recorded their findings in an article titled Surgery versus Physical Therapy for a Meniscal Tear and Osteoarthritis earlier this year. Participants were age 45+ and had been diagnosed with having mild to moderate knee OA with meniscal tear. Participants in this study were not excluded if they had received physical therapy in the past.  They were randomly placed in either a surgery plus physical therapy group or a physical therapy only group.  The physical therapy protocols in both groups were exactly the same.

At 6 and 12 month follow ups, it was found that there were no significant differences in pain and functional improvement.

You’re probably thinking: Really?  I can reduce pain and improve my function with physical therapy only and avoid surgery? But I tried physical therapy in the past and it didn’t help. What’s the catch?  Dr. Katz was contacted regarding this question and his response was that, despite participants having had physical therapy for knee pain in the past, their program was not very thorough.

What is a thorough physical therapy program?  Well, your knee is only a portion of your leg.  Remember the song, the leg bones connected to the…?

A thorough physical therapy program addresses your abdominal core, your hip, and your foot/ankle, in addition to your knee.

It is crucial to knee rehabilitation that your leg is addressed as a whole to determine functional impairments and weaknesses that are causing the slow degeneration and dysfunction.

So, if you have OA and a meniscus tear and you haven’t tried a thorough physical therapy program that encompasses the entire leg, I encourage you to consider this in the near future and see if you notice improvements in your pain and overall function during your day to day activities. You may be pleasantly surprised and avoid surgery!


By: Jodie Adams, DPT

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