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Why Knee Surgery is Not the End of Physical Fitness

Being the largest joint, the knee is one of the most important features in the human body. It is made of different bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Aside from a complex anatomy, the knee also absorbs the weight of our body and the shock from our movements, making it very vulnerable to injury.

As we pointed out on Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness, damaging the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common injuries. A Grade 1-2 sprain will recover through a regimented physical treatment but a Grade 3 sprain or a complete tear of the ACL will not heal without rebuilding the ligament through surgery. The same holds true for other ligaments, with the medial collateral ligament (MCL) the second most commonly injured. One athlete that comes to mind is NBA player Kevin Durant, who suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his MCL last year. Since it was a partial tear, no surgery was required, and physical rehabilitation helped him achieve a full recovery.

Another anatomical feature that commonly gets injured is the meniscus. Each knee has two menisci, the medial and the lateral. A meniscus is a cartilage that acts as padding that protects the ends of the bones and prevents them from rubbing together. Dr. Nina Jullum Kise explains that performing surgery on a patient with a meniscal tear depends on whether it is degenerative or traumatic in nature. Degenerative tears normally occur with age, wear and tear and conditions such as arthritis. In this case, Dr. Kise states that exercise is a preferable treatment for patients to minimize further complications. She references a study that found physical therapy showed more success in reducing pain and improving strength and mobility than patients who underwent surgery.

On the other hand, surgical treatment is recommended for traumatic knee injuries caused by playing sports or accidents. Many well-known athletes have sustained injuries to their menisci and required surgery to recover. In 2016, Roger Federer announced his withdrawal from major tournaments due to a torn meniscus. The irony is that his injury happened at home in the bath and not while playing tennis. Nonetheless, the tennis pro underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and made a full recovery. It didn’t take long for the Swiss ace to reclaim his rank as #1 in the world, and Federer enjoyed a resurgent 2017 which also earned him the title of the highest paid tennis player that year. It’s a difficult decision for a professional athlete to take a long break from sports, but as you can see from Federer’s case, it is one that paid off in the long run.

However, injuries that require a total knee replacement (TKR) will most likely force you to choose a gentler form of exercise. It’s most commonly performed in people with knee arthritis where symptoms become too severe and painful that they affect a person’s mobility. Very Well Health lists down low-impact activities such as cycling, swimming and calisthenics that people who’ve had TKR can still do. On the other hand, sports such as basketball, football and jogging are not recommended.

It’s natural for athletes or active individuals to ask whether they’ll be able to return to an active lifestyle after a knee surgery. Depending on the type of injury and appropriate surgery, there are positive chances of making a full recovery. With time and care, you will be back on your feet and have the chance to rebuild yourself.

 

Blog post for kineticptgreenville.com by Millie Miles

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.

Three Reasons Movement Matters

You don’t need Physical Therapy just for rehabilitation from injuries alone. Physical therapy also impacts people’s lives to help people move and live better!  That’s what people deserve right?

When it comes down to it, physical therapy is all about experiences. It’s about making it possible for people to live and experience life to the fullest. Movement – not just exercise, but the overall ability to work, play and LIVE WELL – just so happens to be at the center of so many of our greatest life experiences.”

And with October being National Physical Therapy Month, Jones and other physical therapists across the country are highlighting the many ways physical therapists are uniquely positioned to improve lives and experiences for people of all stages in life.

Physical therapists are highly educated medical professionals who are trained and licensed to help people both improve and maintain the ability to move optimally and with reduced pain. Often, physical therapists can help people do this without the need for surgery or prescription medication.

This includes people who are hurt, injured or who have had surgery, of course, but this also includes athletes looking to improve performance and avoid injury, older adults looking to remain active and independent, workers who want to improve production and comfort while on the job, women who are pregnant … all the way to people who simply just want to be healthier and less sedentary so they can better enjoy the things they love.

And, while strength, cardio health, balance and flexibility are critical for maintaining functional abilities throughout life (i.e., walking, climbing stairs, lifting, reaching, getting out of bed), the ability to move optimally and be active, is something that can equally benefit the body, the mind and the soul.

Why does movement matter?  Well here are some great ways that movement will help you:

Reduced pain – It’s no secret that being active and exercising regularly can benefit the body in seemingly countless ways, from improving cardiovascular health to reducing the incidence of chronic disease. But beyond maintaining great health, specific exercise as prescribed by a physical therapist can benefit people in numerous ways, from helping reduce chronic pain to strengthening bones and joints in older adults. Don’t get caught in the cycle of pain, then less movement, then more pain from not moving.

Improved focus and memory – Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can sharpen and improve memory. But for those with mild cognitive impairments, exercise can also help slow the rate at which                people with such impairments decline. Exercise has also been linked to greater focus, improved learning for children and adolescents, and a reduction in anxiety and stress.

Overall Happiness – Research has also shown that those who exercise regularly tend to be happier and more social than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. Not only that, but maintaining a stronger, healthier body with an eye toward optimal movement helps remove barriers that may stop someone from experiencing life to the fullest, whether that includes exploring new places or trying new things.

The best part about being a physical therapist is helping people get to a place in their lives that they thought was either in the past or was unattainable. Whether it’s helping a person complete their first 5K or making sure someone’s able to still pick up and hug their grandkids, our job as a PT is to help people experience life and be the greatest possible versions of themselves – all through better, more optimal movement.

Dr. Jones is a physical therapist, speaker, author and co-owner of Kinetic Physical Therapy & Wellness and Kinetic Pediatric Therapy who specializes and holds several credentials in orthopedics and manual therapy. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists.