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Joint Mechanics

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So you try to convince yourself that the painful “pop” you just felt in your knee while trying to knock one out of the park is just a minor strain. But the amount of swelling you’re experiencing, coupled with a buckling feeling as you walk, have you questioning your self-diagnosis.

Great, you think, now what?

Knee problems accounted for 19 million visits to physicians’ offices in 2003, says orthopedic surgeon Glen Shapiro, M.D., FAAOS, of Hailey Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, making it the most common reason for visiting an orthopedic surgeon. Almost 14 million people were seen that same year for a shoulder problem.

Your knee joint is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments and fluid, with muscles and tendons allowing the knee to move normally. Dr. Shapiro is convinced that training and conditioning need to be a year-round endeavor as “strong knees are safe knees.”

Flexibility and strengthening exercises for the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles need to be a regular part of any conditioning program. A physical therapist can teach an athlete proper leg and trunk posture during “cutting” movements (quick lateral motions required in soccer, basketball, etc.) as well as proper footfall and landing techniques to avoid hyperextension injuries.

In case of injury, the first steps in treating any acute injury include anti-inflammatory medication, rest, ice and, if possible, compression and elevation (RICE).
As a physical therapist (PT), I also encourage people to use crutches or a cane to avoid secondary strains of the back, hip or calf that result from limping. Isometric muscle setting helps maintain the “mind-muscle” connection and prevents excessive atrophy, while gentle range of motion aids circulation and prevents loss of mobility.

Since Idaho is a direct access state (meaning that a physician’s referral is not necessary to receive physical therapy treatment), I also encourage people to consult with a PT as soon as possible. We’re trained to perform tests to determine the structure at fault and can immediately begin rehab. Any red flags that suggest the need for referral to an orthopedic surgeon will also be obvious to a well-trained PT. >>>

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