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Ask your Physical Therapist: My Knee Pain Makes Me Limp & Makes Stairs Difficult. What Options Do I Have Besides Surgery, Pills & Shots?

This is a GREAT question!  There are many people who have this very same thought.  There are multiple reasons why you could have knee pain that keeps you from walking correctly and affects your ability to: perform stairs, play golf, play tennis, keep up with your grandkids or kids, and just live life without thinking about your knee.

One of the major reasons for knee pain causing the issues mentioned above is arthritis.  Arthritis (of the knee) is inflammation of the tissues between and around the knee joint that provide cushioning and allow smooth, painless mobility at the knee.   Arthritis occurs in most people as they age to some degree, some much worse than others.  Knee Arthritis can be caused by:  a traumatic injury to the knee, flat feet or high arches affecting how you walk (placing increase pressure on the knee), bow-legged or knock-kneed alignment of the knee(s), tightness and or weakness of the muscles surrounding the knee and hip.

Pills and shots treat the symptoms of the knee pain, but do not address the root cause of the problem.  Therefore, pills and shots provide relief for a few days, weeks or months, but the pain usually returns and worsens over time.  Finding and resolving the reason why the knee pain is occurring in the first place will resolve the symptoms AND ensure that the pain does not return.  Finding and resolving the knee pain that is keeping you from walking without a limp, performing stairs, and living life the way you want is a matter of restoring proper mobility and strength to the muscles around the knee and hip as well as making sure that the arches of the feet are properly supported.  There are times when surgery is needed, however there are also many instances where surgery is not needed.  For instance, I have had quite a few patients who were told that they had severe arthritis in the knee and that their knee joint was “bone-on-bone”.   They were told to have a knee replacement, only to find out that when they came to see us first, that we resolved the mobility, strength and alignment issues and eliminated their pain which helped them return to all the things they need, want and love to do without surgery, pills or shots.  Even if you took the conservative route and addressed the mobility, strength and knee pain issues but ended up requiring knee surgery, at the very least you would have excellent mobility and strength going in to surgery and would have a much more rapid recovery with significantly less pain after surgery vs. going into the surgery with limited mobility and weakness.

Please email me if you have any questions regarding knee pain or any other orthopedic ailment and I would be happy to answer your questions:

Steve Miller PT, C.Ped is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy in Carlisle & Mechanicsburg.