As discussed in the video, chronic knee pain doesn’t always mean surgery. Our patient, Rosa Underwood’s* experience demonstrates how physical therapy helped resolve her chronic knee pain, even though she had been advised that surgery was her only option.
Patient Spotlight: Rosa Underwood*
The Issue: I had severe knee pain, constant arthritis pain in my right knee that was affecting my quality of life. The limited mobility affected my ability to shop, play with my grandchildren, garden, enjoy myself in general. I was fearful of being stigmatized professionally because of my limping and the possibility of not working due to needing knee surgery. I was miserable.
How was your physical therapy treatment? The physical therapy felt immediately empowering! I felt that I had an active role in getting better and the better I understood how muscles functioned the more I realized I was not helpless, that a lot of my pain was due to extra stress being put on my knee because of how I moved at many joints and that my knee was not going to crack in half.
The moment things changed: Chris found that I was compensating by clenching my jaw, he treated that and my knee pain decreased significantly. I thought, “What just happened?” My knee pain was decreased significantly, and I was able to garden that weekend kneeling with very little pain, I have not been able to do that in months.
The difference over the past few weeks is incredible… I am walking longer, my attitude is hopeful, I don’t describe my pain as severe…I play with my grandchildren and enjoy myself again. I have not worn a knee brace or wrapped my knee since. My doctor is pleased with my progress and so am I! The ATR team is truly outstanding!
The Therapist’s take: Rosa had significant movement restrictions in her knee, ankle, and hip which piled on top an existing arthritic condition. Her Gluteal muscles were not firing much, and her knee was not able to get straight. It is a common compensation pattern, inhibited gluts put more pressure on the muscles that surround the knee. We tested her glut, it was strong, but she was clenching her jaw. Retesting with a relaxed jaw decreased the glut strength drastically. Palpation revealed increased tenderness at her right masseter, and quick, patient-directed release resulted in the gluteal muscles firing again so they tested strong with a relaxed jaw. With the gluts back on line, it took pressure off of the knee and the patient’s squat test improved dramatically. This is a great example of how the pain is rarely problem, it is the symptom of dysfunction. This is why we examine and treat function, treating structure alone without addressing function rarely leads to long term success.
*Use of quotations and names are with permission of patient