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How Physical Therapy Can Help Your Knee Pain

and why you shouldn't give up on it, even if you've already tried and it hasn't helped.


Let me start by saying that I'm a Physical Therapist. I have my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and I've been practicing for over 13 years! I know you're probably thinking that of course I would say that physical therapy can help, and while that's true, I think that you have to have the right Physical Therapist (one who listens, gives you the correct exercises, and progresses you properly), you have to be motivated to do some of the work yourself, and you have to look at other areas of your life as well (such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, and hormones).


Here are my 4 Secrets to getting rid of knee pain in my patients:


  1. I really listen to their history and their goals. I've worked in a lot of clinics where I felt like I didn't have any time to even talk or listen to a patient. I was rushed through an evaluation and basically only had 5-10 minutes to figure out a treatment plan. This was usually not too effective and while some patients did get better, not all of them did. I was usually frustrated and the patient was frustrated, but there was just no time to really dig in to what was going wrong. I knew I needed to spend more time with the patient, but it was just impossible because of the company expectations. Now that I work with patients online, I get unlimited time to speak with them and discover exactly what we need to work on. I really get to connect with the patient and develop an indivualized treatment plan.

  2. I look at the entire body and not just the knee. The knee joint is between two other joints, the hip and the ankle, so it's important to look at those joints as well. Limited ankle mobility can put increased stress on the knee, leading to injury. Lack of hip strength can also put increased stress on the knee, leading to knee pain. The body is all connected, so it's important to treat it that way.

  3. I treat the body holistically. While exercises are important, it's not the only thing that can affect pain in the body. The amount of sleep you get, what your nutrition looks like, whether you drink enough electrolytes, etc are all important things to look at when treating an injury. It's also important to take hormones into account. A mom who is breastfeeding still has the hormone relaxin in her body and that can increase laxity in the ligaments, leading to pain and injury in the joints.

  4. I make sure to progress exercises appropriately. The exercises that you do in Physical Therapy should not ever be easy. If they are easy, you probably aren't going to get stronger, improve your mobility, or get rid of pain. You need to be challenged and that needs to continue throughout your whole PT journey. You should not be doing the same exercises for 4-8 weeks. Your exercises whould start out challenging, and when those get easier, you should start doing different exercises that will be more challanging. This is how you build strength and mobility to support a joint or a muscle and get rid of pain.


If you have knee pain, I would encourage you to talk to a Physical Therapist (in person or virtually), but make sure they listen, have enough time for you, and prescribe exercises that challenge you!


If you've tried Physical Therapy for Knee pain in the past, let me know your experience in the comments!





Dr. Stephanie Ridgway


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