Chalk One Up for Physical Therapy Treatment for Knee PainMost conservative treatments for joint pain seem to be based on good old common sense, but they aren't always based on science. The treatments might work just fine, yet there may not be any solid research to back them up.
This is the case in treating patellofemoral pain. Patellofemoral pain is often felt behind the kneecap (the patella). Patellofemoral pain mainly occurs during activities such as climbing stairs, squatting, running, and kneeling. Patellofemoral pain is very common, especially in athletes.
No one really understands what causes the pain. There may be several different causes. But no matter what the cause, the standard treatment is physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the tissues around the kneecap. But does physical therapy really work better than the simple effects of time? So far there has been no strong research to prove it.
These researchers in Australia looked at 67 people who had patellofemoral pain. All the patients were younger than 40, and they all had symptoms for more than one month. The researchers divided them into two groups. The treatment group was given standard physical therapy treatment once a week for six weeks. This group worked on strengthening and stretching specific areas around the knee. They also taped their knees to help hold the kneecap in place and did daily exercises at home. The second group was the placebo group. They got false taping, fake ultrasound treatments, and rubbed a nonmedicinal gel on their knees.
After six weeks, the treatment group showed much more improvement in their pain and function. The conclusion was clear: standard physical therapy is an effective treatment for patellofemoral pain. In this case, common sense was backed by science.
Kay Crossley, BAppSc (Physio), et al. Physical Therapy for Patellofemoral Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November/December 2002. Vol. 30. No. 6. Pp. 857-865.
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