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Knee News

Stimulating Results after Knee Surgery

The use of electrical stimulation (ES) as a treatment for muscular problems has been questioned. Some researchers claim it doesn't work, while others aren't so quick to throw in the towel. When any treatment comes into question, scientists must review the findings. New studies must be done to confirm or deny the information.

The first step is to study single cases. When enough information is gathered, a larger study is done. At the present time, a case has been reported using ES for the knee. The patient had surgery to cut the fibrous band along the outer edge of the kneecap. This is done when this band of tissue called the retinaculum pulls the kneecap too far off center.

Five months after the operation, the patient still had stiffness and was unable to walk without a cane or climb stairs normally. The usual physical therapy program wasn't enough. This program usually includes strength exercises and taping.

A new physical therapy program was started using ES. ES was used to contract one part of the quadriceps (thigh) muscle many times each day. This was done for 33 days. The patient had quick relief from the stiffness with a more gradual return of function. Walking and going up or down stairs returned to normal by the end of the treatment five weeks later.

Despite previous reports, the uses and limits of electrical stimulation aren't fully known. Researchers are reviewing single cases to take a second look at ES. In this case, it worked quite well after surgery for a knee that wasn't responding normally.


Valma J. Robertson, PhD., and Alex R. Ward, PhD. Vastus Medialis Electrical Stimulation to Improve Lower Extremity Function Following a Lateral Patellar Retinacular Release. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. September 2002. Vol. 32. No. 9. Pp. 437-445.

09/26/2002

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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