Leg InjuriesPhysical Therapy for Leg Injuries
A hamstring injury is an injury that occurs when you pull or strain the hamstring muscles, the three muscles that compose the back of your thigh. Hamstring muscle injuries are common in people who play soccer, basketball, tennis, or similar activities that involve running with sudden stops or lunges. Hamstring injuries can also occur when running or dancing.
When you tear or pull your hamstring, you may feel a sharp, sudden pain on the back of your thigh. You might also experience burning or a “popping” sensation. Swelling and pain will develop over several hours, and bruising may occur as well.
Typically, all you need to relieve pain and swelling is rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. It’s very rare to need surgery to repair hamstring damage. If you can’t walk more than a couple of steps without pain, or if the swelling and pain continue beyond a week, you need to consult a physical therapist or doctor.
Knee injuries are also common in people who play sports involving running and sudden stops. Because the knee is such a complex joint, it’s important to have a medical professional look at your injury to determine the cause and location of the damage. Common knee injuries include:
- ACL Damage
- Meniscus Damage
- Ligament Damage
- Illiotibial Band Syndrome
While resting, icing, and pain relievers can help with pain and swelling, it’s important to recognize when the pain or damage goes beyond a simple injury. If there is chronic pain beyond a week, or if the range of motion has become limited, it’s important to consult a physical therapist. Tears or other trauma-induced damages can require surgery, bracing, or other formal treatment plans. Letting a serious knee injury heal without medical help can sometimes cause scar tissue and other complications, even decades later.
Meniscal tears are one of the most common knee injuries. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage in your knee that cushions and stabilizes surrounding bone, tissue, and ligaments. Tearing is the most common way to damage a meniscus, and in some cases, pieces of the torn cartilage can end up within the joint itself, causing swelling, aching, and “locking” of the knee. Like most knee injuries, meniscus injuries occur when suddenly stopping or turning, and are common in people who play sports that require this kind of maneuvering.
Treatment varies depending on the location of the tear, and any damage to surrounding bones, ligaments, and tendons. Surgery may be required, and physical therapy is integral to the successful healing of a meniscus injury.
Sometimes surgery is necessary to repair a torn meniscus. Meniscus repair can sometimes involve stitching the meniscus itself back together, removing shredded cartilage from the knee joint, or smoothing torn edges from the meniscus itself. Each surgery is different, depending on the injury, and recovery times can vary as well. Post-surgical physical therapy is recommended to regain full range of motion, and to reduce complications and scar tissue.
Torn Cartilage in Knee
The knee receives a great deal of pressure every day. Because it only moves in one plane, sudden forces can cause the cartilage in the joint to tear. Once again, this can cause pain and stiffness and possibly a feeling of a locked joint, and individuals may not be able to place much weight on the affected leg.
Many times, physical therapy can be used instead of surgery to treat torn cartilage in the knee. Physical therapy treatments aim to restore range of motion and decrease inflammation to allow the torn cartilage to heal. Wobble board exercises can be particularly helpful to regain knee stability. Squats, step-ups, passive knee extensions and straight leg raises are among the best therapy exercises.
Simply put, patella-femoral dysfunction is when your kneecap does not glide properly over your knee joint and leg bone. It is primarily caused by muscle weakness in the surrounding tissue, though it can also be the result of injury. Physical therapy is especially helpful with this dysfunction, and is used to strengthen surrounding muscles. Ice and knee braces are typically used as well, until the knee cap regains proper function.
Restless Leg Syndrome
People with Restless Leg Syndrome experience sudden twitching, itching, or “pins and needle” sensations throughout their legs while resting. While Restless Leg Syndrome has no known cause, studies have shown that increased physical activity and physical therapy can alleviate some if not all of the symptoms. Technically, Restless Leg Syndrome is classified as a neurological disorder, though there is a strong correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and the syndrome’s occurrence. Physical therapy is recommended, as a physical therapist can recommend special exercises and treatments to reduce or eliminate Restless Leg Syndrome.
Shin splints are painful, and depending on the cause, they can be reoccurring as well. Shin splints typically occur when muscles along the shins are weak or out of balance, which can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Gait imbalance
- Improperly fitted shoes
- Incorrectly performed exercises or activities
- Poor arch support
A physical therapist will be able to identify the root cause of the shin splints, recommending specific treatments (rest, ice, compression), activity modifications, and specific exercises to decrease pain and strengthen the surrounding muscles.
Leg Injuries in Portland OR and Vancouver WA
Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas: