physiquality blog: will I have arthritis after my knee injury?

As a person who has had five knee surgeries now, this is a very personal subject. One particular pre-op appointment comes to mind. I was living in Los Angeles, and I was preparing for a cartilage implant. After years and years of dance (many on tile floors), I’ve shredded my cartilage, and the doctors agreed this would help to repair the hole in my right knee’s cartilage.

So I go to see my GP for blood work the week before surgery. He looks at what is supposed to be done, looks up at me, and asks when I’m going to have my knee replaced. I dunno doc, can I get through this surgery (that’s supposed to delay a knee replacement) first?

In my own estimation, I was doomed from the beginning. I had arthritis in my right knee at 14. My left knee started sounding like Rice Krispies in my 30s. But I know that if I don’t remain active, I’ll simply put on more weight, and I’ll be more at risk for arthritis, as well as lots of other things. So it’s better to be as active as I can, with the hopes of postponing these other issues and surgeries as long as possible.

Will I have arthritis after my knee injury?

with advice from Mitch Kaye, PT

Unfortunately, if you have a traumatic injury to the knee like an ACL tear, a meniscus tear or even certain types of fractures, your chance of developing osteoarthritis increases significantly.

Osteoarthritis, which is the wearing away of cartilage, can occur normally with years of use, but it can also occur more readily after trauma around the knee. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that 700,000 knee injuries a year account for 12.5% of post-traumatic arthritis cases in the U.S., and they warn that younger athletes with ACL injuries are at risk of developing arthritis before they are 40 years old, often within 10 years of the original injury.

If you’re an athlete who has had one of these types of injuries, it’s not something you probably wanted to hear.

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physiquality blog: playing football safely

I’ll admit, this was a tough one to write. We are parents of a boy and have recently moved to Texas; football is not a sport down here — it’s a religion. As my husband and I watched the Bears play the Packers on Sunday night, I asked him if our “touch football only” rule with our son seemed hypocritical when we watch football every weekend, both college and professional. He disagreed, since it was the same rule instituted at his house growing up. They could watch football games on TV, but couldn’t play on any teams due to the risks inherent in the sport.

But football has changed since we were kids. It has gotten progressively more difficult for me to watch football, particularly the style played in the NFL. The hits are harder, and it seems like the injuries are both more frequent and more gruesome. (While not life-threatening, the one burned on my brain is the hit Marcus Lattimore sustained in 2012 while playing at the University of South Carolina. He tore EVERY ligament in his knee. All four. It flopped over like it belonged to a puppet.)

That said, I know that players condition more to help come back from injury. We watched several replays of the Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, falling and having a Bears player land on his left leg. It looked bad. But he went, had some tests run (I’m assuming to rule out major injuries and ligament tears) and came back to lead the Packers to victory. Stupid Packers. (If you can’t tell, I’ve been a Bears fan for a long time.)

Despite my personal feelings against those in the green and gold, Rodgers’ (and the team’s) reaction to the injury was textbook. Condition well. If you’re injured, don’t immediately go back in — talk to the doctor. Run some tests. And take care of your body.

Playing football safely

with advice from Mark Salandra, CSCS

It’s that time of year — the kids are back in school, pumpkin spice is starting to spread into stores, and football season has begun. So it’s a good time to remind parents and coaches of some of the more common injuries that football players can sustain, and some ways to perhaps avoid them.

The speed and contact inherent in football make it a relatively high-risk sport, says Mark Salandra, CSCS, who coached both of his sons through peewee football and watched one play at the high school level. It leads all other youth sports in the number of injuries per year. A certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of, a Physiquality partner, Mark knew what injuries to look for when his sons were on the field. He says there are several types of injuries that parents and coaches should watch for:

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physiquality blog: what you should know about ACL injury

I am no stranger to knee surgeries; I have had five, all on my right knee, and will probably have more as I age. Thankfully, I have never (knock on wood) had any problems with my ACL. I know several people that have had ACL surgeries. It’s a painful injury and, whether or not you have surgery, the rehabilitation is particularly grueling.

Despite the aching in my right leg as I did the research and read through the information from our member experts, I wanted to write this as a guideline for those that may have heard that awful pop, a “what to do” and “what to expect” as you navigate the year after an ACL tear.

What you should know about ACL injury

with advice from
Rebekah Glass, PT, DPT, CSCS,
Bobby Horn, PT, DPT, CSCS, Cert. MDT, and
Peter (Piotr) Kluba, PT, DPT

Unless you’re Marcus Lattimore, who famously — or infamously? — injured all four knee ligaments in a college football game in 2012, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the knee ligament you’re most likely to injure. All of us can take steps to reduce the risk, but if you do suffer an ACL tear, your physical therapist can help you on the road to recovery.

An ACL tear is usually caused by a traumatic event, says Rebekah Glass, a physical therapist at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation, a Physiquality member with four locations in Western Michigan. While some tears occur during vehicle collisions or during a fall, most are sports-related and occur without contact from anyone or anything else. These “non-contact” injuries can be caused by quick changes in direction with a misstep, a bad landing after a jump (especially in basketball) or even simply turning the body while slowing down.

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physiquality blog: preventing ACL injury

As one who has survived 4 knee surgeries (soon to be 5, but none ACL-related), this topic hit home with me. I particularly enjoyed talking to Dr. Susan Sigward, who has done a lot of research on the possibility of preventing ACL injuries.

We discussed at some length the psychology of injury prevention, a topic that didn’t make it into the post because of time. I had joked that I wished there was a way to prevent my surgeries, and she pointed out that many teenagers are impossible to convince that injury prevention is important, given the invincible nature of adolescence. Would I have listened to someone if I’d known the road that had been ahead of me? Who knows? But if I ever have a little girl who loves to dance, like me, I’m sure I’ll do my best to convince her that my path was pretty painful. (Whether she’d listen to me, of course, is the question for another day.)

Preventing ACL injury

As teens return to high school and start practicing varsity sports, parents sit on the sidelines and hope it’s not their child that has a serious injury like an ACL tear. Which types of athletes are at a higher risk for ACL injuries? What can athletes do to prevent them?

All of our experts agreed that female athletes were at a much higher risk for non-contact ACL injuries. Robyn Smith, a physical therapist at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation (a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic) and lecturer on ACL injuries in female athletes, says that female athletes sustain ACL injuries “anywhere from 1.5 to 4.6 times more often than males in the same sport.” A variety of intrinsic factors cause these higher rates of injury, including alignment, anatomical differences, a smaller and thinner ACL, and coordination.

The sport being played is also important to consider. Lee notes that the types of movement that lead to non-contact injuries often involve quick stops, cutting movements (when intercepting passes), and sudden changes in direction. So sports that involve such movement, like basketball, soccer, volleyball and football, will put players at a higher risk for ACL injury.

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