By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: July 12, 2012
In my previous article Injuries at Menopause, I wrote about my knee injury. My treacherous fall caused a lot of excruciating pain, restricted movement and reduced strength and endurance in my entire leg. I was incredibly relieved to find out surgery wasn’t necessary, but the constant pain and lack of mobility left me really frustrated. So, my orthopedist recommended, I try some physical therapy.
After my first appointment, I felt like I gained a superhero teammate; she should wear a red cape and fly through the air. We made a master plan to approach my recovery with guns blazing. I was motivated and charged to get back to my normal, active lifestyle. With promises of reducing pain and increasing flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance, I felt relieved. “She really gets it!” I thought.
We set up a series of appointments that included a combination of exercise, stretching and reduce swelling. I pictured physical therapy to be like a relaxing massage that would leave me feeling relaxed and instantly relieved. Boy, was I wrong! The first few appointments were more physically and mentally agonizing than I envisioned. My Just Do It attitude was quickly thrown out the door. I realized it would be a tougher road to recovery than I originally anticipated.
There’s nothing relaxing about partial squats, stepping up and down on a bench, knee and hamstring flexes and riding a stationary bike when your knee already feels like stiff blob. There is some relief at the end when I apply ice to my knee for 20 minutes. At home, I’m resorting to using the frozen bag of peas, but the physical therapist has all the professional cooling wraps that are so easy to use.
As uncomfortable as these exercises are to practice, I must remind myself they are designed to help me, not hurt me. My regimen is designed to stretch and force my muscles to do what they are supposed to do. Strengthening them as my injury heals will promote a stronger, faster recovery. I am sticking with them, as I am tired of walking around like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I want to get better and move forward with my life and activities.
Whew! I can’t believe this happened to me while wearing flat shoes and merely walking to the end of my driveway. Falls are not a rare occurrence. Many people fall for a variety of reasons.
In fact, it is estimated about 1/3 of people over age 65 will fall at least once this year. Some of the reasons for falls are: home hazards (rugs that are laying loose on floors, tripping over your family pet), vision problems, leg muscle weakness and difficulty with your balance, as well as medical conditions like low blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, stroke as well as others. Even taking a variety of medicines at one time may be a risk for falling.
In my case, it was absentmindedness. I was carrying too much in my hands, not paying attention and tripping in my driveway. I now am still paying for my mistake. However, with a lot of help from my physical therapist, I’ve made great strides in fully recovering, one day at a time of course.
A good physical therapist can help you improve and restore mobility and may be a great alternative to rushing into surgery. They can help you if you are experiencing arthritis, back pain, knee pain, osteoporosis, injuries-sprains, strains and fractures, and much more. What’s more important is that they will help you develop a plan to help reduce pain and restore function.
Look for a licensed physical therapist. He/she should be licensed in the state in which they practice. When calling for an appointment, make sure the physical therapy office participates with your insurance company.
What to Expect
A physical therapist will design a plan of care that you will do at home, as well as in their facility. This can all be challenging if you are injured and in pain, however, these are activities which we all must know to maintain our quality of life and avoid injuries. I hope that my real life experience with a knee injury due to a fall, and my finding a solution by sticking with physical therapy will help you as well.
I have ice skated all of my life. Believe me, I am sticking with physical therapy as I am determined to ice skate again. Right now, it would be impossible. I’m taking little steps at a time, working on the exercises my therapist has prepared for me. It’s really helping me get over this hurdle. I can’t wait to lace up those skates again.