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: why is physical therapy important after a joint replacement?

Joint replacement surgery has become fairly common in recent years. It has become easier to recuperate from, and the implanted replacements last a lot longer than they used to. In the 1980s, I was told a new knee would last 10-15 years; now, they can last up to 30 years.

The older patients who often get these surgeries may not have been through orthopedic procedures before, and I’ve come across some who shrug off the prescription of physical therapy as unnecessary. Unfortunately, without the strengthening and work done in PT, these patients could end up with the very same chronic pain that drove them to have the surgery in the first place.

To learn more about why PT is such an integral part of joint replacement procedures, read on…

Why is physical therapy important after a joint replacement?

with advice from Shelly Cloughley, PT, DPT, CSCS

Joint replacement surgeries like knee and hip replacements have been on the rise in the new millennium. With many Baby Boomers approaching their 70s, it’s a trend that most likely will continue.

But while patients might think long and hard about what the surgery will entail and the expertise of their surgeon, they don’t often consider the role of physical therapy in their recovery.

A patient’s decision to undergo a joint replacement is often a result of chronic arthritis or pain, as well as a loss of function and quality of life. Throughout the process of rehabilitation, patients are commonly frustrated about meeting their expectations of having the joint replacement. Patients aren’t usually prepared for the discomfort of the process of healing, and the challenges of restoring their full range of motion and building the necessary strength to return to a functional level that fits their lifestyles.

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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: if you’re in pain, try physical therapy before relying on painkillers

So this is one of my fears. Having dealt with chronic knee problems for most of my life, I am reluctant to take painkillers, particularly opioids like Vicodin or Oxycodone, as I know they are addictive. Given the number of addicts in my family (even when they are more prone to alcohol than anything else), I’ve been a bit paranoid about taking anything that could lead me down that path.

This is why I have always chosen to do physical therapy first, or at least adjacent to, taking painkillers. PT is the long-term solution, trying to fix the cause of the pain, rather than the symptom. If you are dealing with chronic pain, it’s best to at least try physical therapy for relief. Your stomach, kidneys and liver will thank you later.

If you’re in pain, try physical therapy before relying on painkillers

with advice from Michael Weinper, PT, DPT, MPH

You are on your way home from working out at the gym or playing a game of softball. You press on the brake to slow down at a stoplight, and pain sears through your knee. It’s not the first time this has happened, so you decide to talk to your doctor. Do you ask for painkillers, or do you talk to your physician about seeing a physical therapist?

There’s no question that pain hurts, says Michael Weinper, a physical therapist and the owner of PTPN and Progressive Physical Therapy, a private physical therapy practice. It’s how you respond to the pain that will affect your health in the long run.

If you merely rely on painkillers to treat pain, particularly opioid painkillers, you could be setting yourself up for long-term problems like depression and addiction without ever treating the cause of the problem.

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physiquality blog: injury prevention for dancers

As a dancer who has had multiple knee surgeries after 30+ years of training, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have spoken with physical therapists in the past about whether I would have tried some of these techniques to reduce my chance of injury, but thinking back to my 16-year-old self, I don’t know that I would have. And as my problems stemmed from a combination of nature and nurture — genetically misaligned knees that couldn’t handle the years of dance training with a turnout — there’s a part of me that doubts any additional exercises could have averted the surgical procedures.

But there are many other dancers that could avert serious injury by listening to their bodies and strengthening the muscles that oppose those used in dance. For more, read on for the advice from our physical therapist and trainers who work with dancers.

Injury prevention for dancers

with advice from Elisabeth Wheeler, PT, DPT
Ann Cowlin, MA, CSM, CCE,
Mark Salandra, CSCS,
and Wayne Seeto, OT, MSPT

Most dancers know that one of the challenges of the performing arts is to make it look easy, effortless – and painless. According to Elisabeth Wheeler, a physical therapist who works with dancers at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania, up to 90% of dancers will have an injury at some point during their training. So whether you are a professional dancer in a company, or one who takes classes for physical (and mental) activity, it is important to pay attention to your body in order to avoid injury.

Elisabeth notes that dancers can have a variety of injuries throughout the body:

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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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