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How to Manage or Prevent Knee Pain as an Athlete

Did you know about one-quarter of adults are hobbled by chronic knee pain? That means that millions of people can’t walk down the block comfortably, never mind going out for a run or playing a game of tennis.

If your life is becoming less active thanks to ongoing knee pain, the good news is that there is a solution that doesn’t rely on risky medications or invasive surgery — physical therapy.

As someone who leads an athletic lifestyle, you know the benefits of exercise when it comes to your physical and mental health. As physical therapists, the team here at TLC Physical Therapy, led by Jason LaMendola, PT, understands that targeted exercises can help you overcome — or prevent — joint issues like knee pain to help you maintain this active lifestyle

Many roads to knee pain

Your knees are not only the largest joints in your body, they’re among the more complex. These joints bring together three bones, including your:

  1. Shinbone (tibia)
  2. Thighbone (femur)
  3. Kneecap (patella)

 Holding these bones together and providing support and cushioning inside the joints are a host of soft, connective tissues, including:

Given all the players inside each knee, it's little wonder that there are so many causes of chronic knee pain, such as:

Not to mention, any sprain, strain, fracture, or dislocation can lead to short-term knee problems that often lead to longer-term issues if the joint doesn’t heal well.

Preventing and managing knee pain

Whether you’ve already developed knee pain or want to avoid it altogether, as an athlete, you want the most effective and sustainable option. While solutions that come in a bottle or at the edge of the knife can work, they can also come with considerable risks and downtime.

As most elite athletes can attest, physical therapy is often the best solution for restoring or preserving pain-free knee movement. Through physical therapy (PT), we tackle knee issues in many different ways, including:

Let’s look at the runner’s knee for a more specific example. If you have this painful syndrome, it can be caused by tight hamstrings, weak quads, tight Achilles tendons, or a gait that isn’t balanced. 

As physical therapists, we look at and address these areas — we loosen up tight tissues, strengthen weak muscles, improve gait issues, and tweak how you run and use your knees. As a result, you’re rewarded with knees that can not only go the distance but don’t hurt in the process.

In another example of the effectiveness of PT in addressing knee pain, one analysis of people with knee OA found that “Exercise therapy seems to be at least as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and 2 to 3 times more effective than acetaminophen in reducing pain…”

If you’d like to see for yourself how beneficial physical therapy can be in preventing and managing knee pain, please contact one of our offices on the North and South Shores of Staten Island, in Englishtown, New Jersey, or Midtown, Manhattan, in New York City, to schedule an appointment.

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