“Due to a disability, I have been coming to Farmingdale Physical Therapy West for several years. An easy task like putting on my sneakers was difficult, due to having no strength in my leg to push my foot into it. Because of the wonderful therapists and my diligence, I gained more strength in my leg and was able to push my foot into my sneaker. There are many other things that I couldn’t do and now I can. I look forward to going to therapy; the staff is made of dedicated, wonderful, and friendly people. Thanks to the staff for helping me overcome my hurdles.” -Elaine H.
There are a variety of causes for both hip pain and knee pain. While the hip joint can withstand a good amount of wear and tear, it’s not indestructible. With age and usage, the hip cartilage can wear down. Muscles and tendons in the hip can also get overused. The anatomy of the knee is complex; it has bones, pads of cartilage and a joint capsule. Injury or aging can cause joint pain in the knee.
Causes of Hip Pain
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the main culprits of hip pain in older folks. Both can lead to a breakdown of the cartilage and to inflammation in the hip joint. Along with pain, there can be stiffness and reduced range of motion in the hip.
Trochanteric Bursitis / Tendonitis
Bursitis can also cause pain in the hip. The trochanteric bursa is a sac of fluid that reduces friction on the side of the hip. Repetitive activities may cause this bursa to get inflamed, leading to irritation of the hip joint and pain. Like bursitis, tendinitis can cause inflammation and is usually caused by repetitive stress from movement.
Muscle and tendon strains are generally a result of overuse from repeated activities that can put strain on the ligaments, tendons and muscles that support the hips. Ligament sprains and strains can also occur from quick over-stretching of the tissues causing micro-tearing and injury. If any of these structures is inflamed or injured, the hip won’t work normally, and there will be pain.
Total Hip Replacements
When the hip has suffered a significant trauma such as a fracture or long-term arthritis that is affecting your ability to move and walk, a total hip replacement surgery may be needed. In a total hip replacement surgery, the socket of the hip joint and head of the femur are replaced.
Typically people have suffered for a while before having surgery, leading to changes in walking, muscle strength and function. Physical therapy before surgery, in general, has been shown to help the speed and quality of recovery after surgery.
Hip labral tears may result from a combination of several different variables, including:
- Bony abnormalities in the hip joint (hip impingement)
- Hip muscle tightness
- Hip muscle weakness
- Improper technique with repetitive activities
- Participation in sports that require distance running, or repetitive twisting and cutting
Once torn, the labral tissue in the hip does not have the ability to heal on its own. There are surgical procedures to remove or repair torn labral tissue; however, treatment for a labral tear often begins with physical therapy.
Nonsurgical treatment efforts are focused on addressing symptoms by maximizing the strength and mobility of the hip while minimizing stress placed on the injured area. In certain cases, patients are able to achieve a satisfactory level of activity without surgery.
Surgical interventions are available to clean out the hip joint, and repair or reconstruct the torn labral tissue. Following surgery, patients will complete several months of physical therapy to regain function of the hip.
Causes of Knee Pain
The knee joint is very prone to injuries. Common injuries include meniscal injuries, anterior cruciate ligament injuries, ligament sprains, muscle strains and tendonitis.
The meniscus is a ring of cartilage in the knee that provides cushioning and stability of the knee joint while guiding movement. It is connected on the outer edges to the thick ligaments around the knee. The inside part of knee (medial meniscus) bears more weight and often sustains more damage than the outside part (lateral meniscus).
The meniscus is supposed to be smooth to ensure good gliding of the knee when it is bending. With injuries, poor alignment or weak musculature, the meniscus can become bruised and even torn. The outside edges of the meniscus have more blood flow than the inner portions. This means, depending on the area were the damage is located the healing process can be slow.
Many times, meniscus injuries are mild to moderate and can be rehabilitated with physical therapy. However, at times surgical intervention may be necessary to clean and shave down the torn areas of the meniscus. Physical therapy is very important to ensure a full recovery after this surgical procedure.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important ligament that provides stability in the knee and checks the forward sliding of the tibia bone on the femur bone in the knee. This ligament can be injured with sports or falls, especially with cutting or deceleration while the foot is planted on the ground or from a direct blow to the knee.
When an ACL injury involves a sprain, there is typically swelling that occurs in the knee and a feeling of instability with walking. Sprains are classified according to their severity, with grades 1 through 3. Grades 1 and 2 are often treatable without surgery, while grade 3 is most often a complete tear and typically requires surgery. Physical therapy is vital to rehabilitation after this surgery.
Patellofemoral syndrome is often caused by a slip or fall onto the knees. There’s pain, swelling and an imbalance of the knee muscle in its groove. Strengthening exercises and stretching can help the muscles correct themselves. In addition to strengthening exercises, a physical therapist may use bracing techniques or knee taping for this type injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can also cause knee pain. With the breakdown of cartilage due to osteoarthritis in the knee, the bones begin to rub against each other and cause pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints. It affects the membrane that lines the knee joint. The end result is inflammation, joint damage and joint pain in the knee.
The medial cruciate ligament (MCL) is an important ligament that checks the side to side sliding of the femur bone on the tibia bone in the knee. This ligament can be injured with sports or falls, especially with blows to the outside of the knee while the foot is planted on the ground. It is common for the MCL to be injured along with the medial meniscus.
The lateral cruciate ligament (LCL) is an important ligament that checks the side to side sliding of the femur bone on the tibia bone in the knee. This ligament can be injured with sports or falls, especially with blows to the inside of the knee while the foot is planted on the ground.
With a sprain, the ligament is overstretched and micro-tearing results, causing pain and inflammation. There is little blood flow to the ligaments and they get most of their nutrition from the joint fluid. This means, that their healing is a lot slower than most other tissues. Depending on the severity of the sprain and on joint stability, the potential for future injury can increase.
The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Hip and Knee Pain
Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments for hip and knee pain. Whether you are experiencing a sports injury, overuse injury, or general wear and tear, there are many benefits of physical therapy including improved mobility, reduction of pain, decreased inflammation, and a better lifestyle. The initial visit to a physical therapist for pain in the hip or knee will consist of a thorough evaluation of your gait, knee and hip range of motion measurements, strength testing, balance testing, and flexibility assessment. Based on these findings, your physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan. Our physical therapists perform hands-on manual therapy techniques and may use modalities such as electric stimulation, ultrasound, and heat or ice to reduce your pain. An individualized program consisting of exercises to improve strength, mobility, flexibility, and balance deficits will be prescribed. Treatment with a physical therapist for pain in the hip or knee can result in a faster recovery and help you avoid surgery.
If you’re suffering from hip pain, knee pain or any type of joint pain, be sure to give us a call. Our trained and skilled physical therapists are your path to recovery. Contact us at Bethpage & Ronkonkoma, NY centers for a comprehensive assessment and get back to what you love doing today!.