Hip pain and knee pain are a part of life for many people. Cartilage in the knees, hip or lower back can wear down due to overuse and lead to discomfort or arthritis. Sometimes just a straight-up injury can cause pain. While some cases are so severe that they could require surgery to repair an injury, there are many situations in which working with a physical therapist can help overcome these pains. Our physical therapist team has helped many patients overcome knee or hip pain, and ReQuest Physical Therapy is happy to work with you to help you achieve pain relief and get back to a normal routine.
Analyzing Knee and Hip Pain
The first thing your physical therapist will do is an evaluation to figure out where you’re experiencing pain and the type of pain. Hip pain, for example, can be located in the groin, the front of the hip, the side, the lower back or the buttocks. Knee pain can be on the front or back of the knee joint; it could also be due to a medial injury on the inside of the knee, or iliotibial band stress, which leads to pain on the outside of the knee.
Hip pain tends to feel like a constant dull ache. Knee pain, however, is often assessed as one of several different types of pain:
- Acute: This is the most intense type of knee pain, and it usually occurs in the first week after an injury. If you’re experiencing acute pain, your doctor or therapist will simply recommend rest and isolation of the knee for at least a week to let it heal.
- Subacute: Two to six weeks after an injury, the pain will still be intense, but far less than the acute pain of the first week. During this time, your physical therapy can include gentle motions around the knee to try to increase range of motion and facilitate healing.
- Chronic: This is pain that lasts for longer than two or three months. If you’ve been living with serious knee pain for that long, it’s a good idea to see a specialist for a full exam and X-rays.
Getting Started With Physical Therapy
After your initial conversation with a physical therapist, it will be time for some further testing of your knee or hip pain. The process for both types of injury will be similar to this:
- Gait Analysis: Your physical therapist will assess how you walk to determine if anything is out of the ordinary with your gait.
- Palpation: Some gentle palpation of the knee or hip with the therapist’s hands will help to check the knee structure or hip to find where the pain is originating.
- Check Range of Motion: Your therapist will measure to see how far your knee or hip can bend. This will help determine the course of therapy, because it will give your specialist an idea of the types and intensity of exercises you should begin working on.
- Strength Checks: Testing the strength of your knee and hip structures will give the physical therapist an idea of whether your pain is due to an injury or imbalance of some type.
Your physical therapist will also check your balance and measure any swelling that is detected around the impacted joint. Then, you’ll likely go through a series of special physical therapy tests; this is the final step in analyzing your knee pain and will allow your therapist to prescribe a course of exercises.
Most of your physical therapy exercises will be “prescribed,” meaning you’ll be able to do them on your own at home. These exercises will help strengthen the muscle structures around the knee or hip (or both). Your physical therapist will likely also run you through the exercises during regular checkups to monitor your progress and to make sure you’re on the best course of treatment.