More and more medical research is demonstrating how powerful a tool physiotherapy can be when it comes to preventing knee injuries and rehabilitating damaged knees.
A good news health story in today’s New York Times, for example, highlights a study published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Sports Medicine: The randomized trial demonstrates that a simple strengthening program can reduce injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a common knee injury among women who play sports. Researchers measured the rate at which ACL injury occured among university-level female soccer players. About half of the soccer players performed a series of preventative exercises, designed to protect their knees, and the other half did not. The group that performed the strengthening exercises reported significantly fewer cases of injury than the control group. (A sample of the exercises can be found here (pdf).) According to the Times, these exercises can be performed for as little as 20 minutes three times a week.
The results of another randomized trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September, show that arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee is no more effective at treating the condition than physical and medical therapy. Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage in your joints wears down over time, and it can be painful and difficult to treat. This finding offers hope to patients who may be looking for an alternative to knee surgery.
A press release issued by The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) says this "landmark" study has important implications for the Canadian healthcare system, where wait list times for orthopaedic problems can be very long. “Either people have to wait months to get an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon or they have to wait months for a surgery date,” says physiotherapist and CPA Board of Director Member Rob Werstine. “This study confirms that people with knee OA should consider seeking out the care of a physiotherapist”.