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If I have right knee osteoarthritis, do I have to work out my left side as well?
I was recently asked by a patient why he had to work out both sides of his body in physical therapy if only his right knee hurt. I can understand some of the confusion. After all, if your right shoulder were painful and inflamed and required an injection, the medication would only be put at the site of inflammation -- in your right shoulder. You would not be a candidate for a right and a left shoulder injection! However, physical therapy, for the most part, is much different. I'll explain.
There are two basic components to physical therapy -- passive and active. In the passive component, the therapist may apply ice, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and other modalities to the painful area. For the most part, these modalities are only placed at the site of injury (there are a few exceptions that are beyond the scope of this blog). So, in this sense, physical therapy is functioning si...
Total knee replacement (TKR) surgery can do wonders for an arthritic or damaged knee. But TKR is hard on the muscles around the knee. Surgery and the down time after surgery often cause these muscles to lose strength. Weakness is especially bad in the thigh muscles. Much of rehab after TKR involves strengthening the weak muscles around the knee. Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) can help muscles gain strength. It seems odd that simply passing an electrical current through a muscle can build it up, but it's true. EMS is sometimes used to regain strength after spine injuries. EMS has also been shown to help athletes build muscle. These authors tested using EMS in the thigh muscles after TKR. Fifteen patients were given EMS treatments after TKR. They were hooked up to EMS for four hours a day over six weeks. They also had the usual physical therapy. A second group of 15 patients received just the usual therapy. Both groups were checked for walking speed, walking effort, and knee function b...
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