Although the time required for recovery varies, patients with patellofemoral problems often benefit from four to six weeks of Physical Therapy. The aim of treatment is to calm pain and inflammation, to correct muscle imbalances, and to improve function of the patella.
Treatment for a patellar problem begins by decreasing the inflammation in the knee. Your Physical Therapist at Humpal Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers may suggest rest and anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, especially when the problem is coming from overuse. Physical Therapy can help in the early stages by decreasing pain and inflammation. Our therapist may use ice massage, ultrasound and electrical stimulation to limit pain and swelling.
As the pain and inflammation become controlled, our Physical Therapist will work with you to improve flexibility, strength, and muscle balance in the knee.
Muscle imbalances are commonly treated with stretching and strengthening exercises. Flexibility exercises are often designed for the thigh and calf muscles. Our Physical Therapist will use guided exercises to maximize control and strength of the quadriceps muscles.
Bracing or taping the patella can help you do exercises and activities with less pain. Most braces for patellofemoral problems are made of soft fabric, such as cloth or neoprene. You slide them onto your knee like a sleeve. A small buttress pads the side of the patella to keep it lined up within the groove of the femur. An alternative to bracing is to tape the patella in place. Our Physical Therapist applies and adjusts the tape over the knee to help realign the patella. The idea is that by bracing or taping the knee, the patella stays in better alignment within the femoral groove. This in turn is thought to improve the pull of the quadriceps muscle so that the patella stays lined up in the groove. Patients report less pain and improved function with these forms of treatment. Our Physical Therapist will also examine and address any biomechanical issues with the foot and ankle with manual therapy or strengthening. He or she may also suggest special shoe inserts, called orthotics, to improve your knee alignment and function of the patella.
Most patients take part in formal Physical Therapy after knee surgery for patellofemoral problems. Patients undergoing a patellar shaving usually begin rehabilitation right away. More involved surgeries for patellar realignment or restorative procedures for the articular cartilage require a delay before going to therapy. And rehabilitation may be slower to allow the bone or cartilage to heal before too much strain can be put on the knee.
When you begin your Humpal Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers program, our first few Physical Therapy treatments are designed to help control the pain and swelling from the surgery. Our Physical Therapist will choose exercises to help improve knee motion and to get the quadriceps muscles toned and active again. Muscle stimulation, using electrodes over the quadriceps muscle, may be needed at first to get the muscle moving again.
As your program evolves, our Physical Therapist will choose more challenging exercises to safely advance the knee's strength and function. The key is to get the soft tissues in balance through safe stretching and gradual strengthening.
At Humpal Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers, our goal is to help you keep your pain under control, ensure you place only a safe amount of weight on the healing knee, and improve your strength and range of motion. When your recovery is well under way, regular visits to our office will end. Although we will continue to be a resource, you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
Humpal Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Centers provides services for Physical Therapy in Corpus Christi.