How can PT help get rid of knee pain fast?

Knee pain can get in the way of important daily activities. We get it — living an active lifestyle might mean you don’t have much time to wait around for recovery. For example, young athletes balancing schoolwork and sports practice as well as adults engaging in weekend sports or fitting in an after-work walk can have very demanding schedules. Trying to ignore knee pain is one of the worst things you can do, though, because you could end up making things worse. A minor injury that would only take a few days to heal could turn into something that takes weeks or a couple of months.

In just one session, a physical therapist can determine the likely cause of your knee pain and try some techniques to get your knee joint moving again. They’ll also be able to give you an idea of how long it should take to improve and what treatment methods will work best. 

There’s no quick fix for knee pain, but some patients feel some relief after their first session. Keep reading to learn about some physical therapy techniques that can help reduce knee pain right away.

How does physical therapy help with knee pain?

First, your physical therapist will ask you some questions and perform some tests to determine what’s causing your knee pain. Sometimes an X-ray, MRI or CT scan may be necessary to get a closer look at the different parts of your knee joint and make a clear diagnosis. Often, this will involve making an appointment with a medical imaging provider. 

Depending on the cause of your knee pain, your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan combining a few different techniques. Some common knee pain treatments will immobilize your knee while it heals, stretch out your knee joint, strengthen the muscles that surround your knee, or loosen stiffness and increase circulation. Your physical therapist will ask about your daily activities and when you notice knee pain most. They’ll also ask you to perform knee movements so they can observe your knee’s alignment and range of motion.

What can cause knee pain?

The cause of your knee pain might help your PT determine the fastest and most effective way to get rid of it. Approximately 55% of sports injuries are knee injuries, and these are especially common among young athletes. Runners, cyclists and basketball players are some of the most likely to get knee injuries from repetitive movements or overuse. Sports medicine is one of our areas of specialty, so we’ve treated a lot of young people with common conditions like patellofemoral pain syndrome and quadriceps tendinitis.

Most people with mild to moderate knee pain from conditions like bursitis and tendinitis will benefit from soft tissue mobilization and exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. However, these motions can cause more pain if you have a more serious knee injury. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend what specific types of treatments will be most helpful and which ones to avoid. 

One thing to know about knee injuries is that they can cause you to compensate by shifting your gait. Likewise, gait disorders can cause knee pain. We offer gait training and balance therapy so you can keep moving with good form and stay active without too much pain.

Some common causes of mild to moderate knee pain include:

  • Bursitis.
  • Tendinitis.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
  • Baker’s cyst.
  • Gout.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Knee sprain or tear.

7 physical therapy treatments that can help get rid of knee pain fast

There’s no way to know exactly how long it will take to heal the dysfunction causing your knee pain. If a couple of weeks have gone by and you’re still experiencing mild knee pain that comes and goes, it’s time to see a physical therapist. They can provide education, perform treatments and teach you exercises that are all personalized for you. It’s the fastest way to get relief and prevent your knee pain from getting worse.

The following are some physical therapy treatments that can get your knee feeling better as soon as possible:

  • Manual therapy — This is when the therapist uses their hands to manipulate tight or inflamed tissue that could be causing your knee pain. They’ll use kneading-like motions to release pressure and get the blood circulating.
  • Therapeutic exercise —Your PT will show you specific exercises you can do every day to strengthen the muscles around your knee joint. 
  • Joint and soft tissue mobilization — These are specific types of manual therapy that loosen up stiffness, restoring flexibility and range of motion. Your PT may ask you to sit on the edge of a table or lie facedown to move your knee joint at just the right angle.

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) — This treatment works just like manual soft tissue mobilization, but your therapist will use ergonomic stainless steel tools to loosen up adhesions or scar tissue and increase cell activity.

  • Dry needling — Dry needling relieves pain by releasing pressure built up in tight muscles, tendons or ligaments. It’s not the same as acupuncture, but it can provide similar relief.
  • Kinesiology taping — Your physical therapist may apply kinesiology tape to support an area that’s pulling on your knee joint or apply gentle pressure to keep it from getting stiff. Kinesiology tape is moisture wicking and made of elastic, so it can stay on for up to 24 hours or more.
  • Gait training and balance therapy — Many people don’t pay much attention to the way they walk. With gait training and balance therapy, you can gain some awareness and learn how to maintain an even gait while your knee is healing. This is important for preventing further injuries.

How to reduce knee pain fast at home 

You can use the RICE method at home to get some fast relief from knee pain. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Sometimes alternating heat with ice can help, too. Other times, one is more appropriate than the other. Your physical therapist can make a recommendation as to which is more appropriate. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever. We don’t recommend using either of these methods for more than a few days. If your knee is still painful and swollen at that point, it’s time to see a professional. 

These are usually acceptable ways to get relief between physical therapy sessions in addition to whatever your PT recommends. Be sure to follow their instructions and either rest or exercise your knee accordingly. Go to follow-up appointments even if your knee is feeling better so your therapist can tell you how to maintain recovery and what to do if your knee starts hurting again. 

Advent Physical Therapy can treat your knee pain 

Most musculoskeletal pain has a mechanical cause, and we know what methods will work best for common types of knee pain. There’s never really a great time to deal with little aches and pains. But taking an hour out of your week to see a physical therapist now may save you from a more serious injury and hours of treatment in the future. 

Did you know we also offer virtual physical therapy? Our PTs can instruct you on ways to move and exercise your knees virtually anywhere; 93% of patients see a decrease in pain after virtual care, so it’s effective and a great time saver. 

Call us or request an evaluation today so we can get you in at a time that works with your schedule. One session could be all it takes to start relieving your knee pain and help you stay injury-free.