If you’re wondering how you can get your life back when your knee is getting so stiff and painful that you can’t walk without a limp, walk up and down stairs, chase or play with grandchildren, travel or exercise, there are a number of things that could be causing that pain.
One of the major causes of these issues is degeneration of the knee joint, which causes a wearing down of the tissue that normally acts to cushion and lubricate your knee joint as it moves and you bear weight on it. This process of degeneration of the joint causes swelling in and around the knee joint, followed by pain and the gradual loss of the ability to fully bend and/or straighten the knee.
This loss of knee range of motion causes you to limp, makes it difficult to walk up and down the stairs due to pain, which in turn affects your ability to exercise, travel or play with your grandkids.
Often times, when you see an orthopedic specialist or physician, they will prescribe medication and may even order an X-ray that shows the knee joint is “bone on bone.” In this case the surgeon normally recommends a total knee replacement. However, just because your X-ray reveals that your knee is bone on bone or close to it, and you have the stiffness, pain and inability to do the things you want to, it does not necessarily mean you need to have a knee replacement.
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I have had many patients come into my office and tell me that they were losing knee range of motion, as well as the ability to perform activities of daily living, and that their X-ray showed bone on bone at the knee. When these patients came to me, they were distressed because they are told they must have a knee replacement. With many of these patients I am able to help them avoid knee replacement by simply reducing the swelling and pain, restoring knee joint range of motion and restoring the strength to the muscles around the knee.
These measures often resolve the limp, allows the patient to walk up and down the stairs without restriction, as well as allow the patient to return to exercise or other activities that they love without pain. There are times when a knee replacement is needed, but most often, it pays to try the conservative route first since you most often can avoid surgery.
If you try the conservative route and find you still have pain that is limiting your function, but your range of motion is better, then you have still helped yourself in the sense that your physical therapy after surgery will be much faster.
If you are experiencing knee pain that is causing you to limp, limiting your ability to perform stairs, exercise, travel or just getting in the way of life, call us for a free screen at 717-245-0400 to see how we can help you avoid surgery and get your life back.
Steve Miller is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column will appear bi-monthly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and on Cumberlink.com.