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When Physical Therapy Can Help

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Move It to Improve It

This active rehab approach is backed by a host of new research. "Recent studies comparing surgery to physical therapy for the treatment of problems like knee and back pain indicate that seeing a therapist can often result in a better outcome -- with less medication and reduced cost -- than seeing a surgeon," Avruskin says.

While men still account for a higher number of athletic injuries than women, the type of exercise-related problems we get makes us ideal candidates for PT. "Women are predisposed to hurting their hips, knees, and backs, in part because of alignment issues; our hips are much wider than our lower body, and that can put excessive strain on the joints and ligaments," says Wendy Katzman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of physical therapy at the University of California, San Francisco.

Muscle strength also plays a role. One study found that female athletes suffered tears to their ACL, one of the major ligaments in the knee, at a rate up to six times higher than their male counterparts. "If the hip muscles don't have sufficient strength to stabilize the knee, injuries happen," says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.

Tabatha Thompson, 35, of Louisville, Kentucky, discovered this the hard way after persistent knee pain kept her from competing in a series of races that she'd trained for. A friend suggested she see a physical therapist. "My therapist found that my right hip was so weak that I'd been leaning on my stronger left side to compensate," Tabatha says. A routine that focused on strengthening her glutes and hips so her knee wouldn't have to do so much work allowed the joint to heal. A few months later Tabatha was back to her regular six-mile runs, but now she was pain-free.

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roxyjones7 wrote:

Great article. I read a blog post about the history of physical therapy and it is really what sparked me to get going!

8/18/2014 02:12:14 PM Report Abuse
jleavitt84 wrote:

I have a friend that his been going to rehab for the last few months. He was really nervous about it too because he didn't know what to expect. After a few sessions he really started to enjoy it and he started liking his trainer. He is now almost done and he is so glad that he did it.

2/21/2014 04:16:56 PM Report Abuse
ealexander321 wrote:

My doctor diagnosed me with back strain, sent me to PT(physical therapy). PT said doctors always put that down and rely on them to figure out what is really the problem. 1st they said- strain of the sack the encases the spinal cord, then that it was trigger points (tight muscles). He used his thumb and pressed hard on my lower back where it hurt. Unfortunately it appears I actually had a bulging disc and they popped it and caused paralysis. I had to have surgery. Too bad couldn't get MRI 1st.

5/13/2010 03:00:11 PM Report Abuse
mcanna wrote:

Great article! As an under 30 year old woman, who also had hip surgery, PT has been a godsend. Even prior to surgery, going to PT helped out with pain. The PT's that I have seen have been are, for the most part, active individuals who understand that you want to get back to activity and feel better, in a different way than a doctor does.

5/11/2010 10:46:58 AM Report Abuse
deadicateddee wrote:

FYI, not only the elderly have hip replacements, one year ago at 38 I had a total hip replacement. I'm guessing that was just a 'play on words'...

2/25/2010 08:34:11 PM Report Abuse

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