Physical Therapy for Knee Pain

Knee pain is commonly minimized or eliminated through Physical Therapy (PT) interventions. PT for Knee aims to heal and restore knee’s function and movement.

A pain management specialist may focus on decreasing pain in the knee with either passive or active therapy, using either of manual therapies, heat/ice packs or electrical stimulation. The most prescribed active physical therapy interventions for knee pain include stretching and range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises and pain relief exercises. Different PT interventions treat knee pain by enhancing joint flexibility, reducing pain level by targeting the associated muscles, helping the affected muscles relax and boosting pain perception and threshold so that an individual has better ability to deal with it.

How does physical therapy for knee pain work?

One may experience knee pain as a consequence of an injury (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury, Fractures, Torn Meniscus, Knee Bursitis and Patellar Tendinitis), mechanical problems (Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Dislocated Kneecap, Hip of Foot Pain) or Arthritis. With physical therapy, the sufferer can ease the knee pain and restore the knee’s functional ability.

To prescribe an individualized plan, the therapist needs to check how well the knee bends, straightens and moves. The therapist also needs to check for any weak muscle(s) in the front and back of the patient’s thigh and detect any balance issues. Once the troubled spot is identified, the patient is asked to work on strengthening the leg muscles through strength training exercises.

Stretching exercises, Ice/heat and electrical nerve or muscle stimulation, depending on the assessment of pain, may also be included in an individual’s PT plan to eliminate the knee pain.

Commonly prescribed exercises for knee pain

Physical Therapy sessions are individualized for each patient, based on diagnosis and recovery goals.  Straight Leg Raises is a simple strengthening exercise for quadriceps. Since this exercise puts little to no strain on the knee, it is mostly prescribed for patients with chronic, severe knee pain.  

Hamstring Curls works on the muscles along the back of the thigh hence helps to stabilize the knee. Wall Squats is another advanced exercise for knee pain. People with an old injury to the knee can resort its normal function by imparting strength to their glutes.

Other mostly prescribed exercises for knee pain include Calf Raises, Step-Ups, Side Leg Raises, Short Arcs Leg Presses and Long Arcs.