Benefits of Whole Body Vibration (WBV)

GForce WBVWhether you are an avid runner, soccer mom or weekend warrior – everyone is trying their best in today’s fast pace world to maintain optimal health and fitness through breakthrough technology and exercises. Current fads include dry needling, cupping, tabata/HITT workouts and most recently Whole Body Vibration therapy (WBV). Now WBV isn’t exactly new, but is resurfacing as an effective treatment to increase bone density and maintain/restore muscle strength. Vibration therapy has been used for thousands of years and was first well acknowledged in 2002 when NASA implemented vibration therapy to fight muscle atrophy (wasting) and bone density loss with their astronauts on space missions. Recent research has found that WBV is beneficial for seasoned athletes, pulmonary patients (COPD), neurologic diagnosis (CP and Parkinson’s disease), as well as the aging patient.

Treatments usually consist of the patient holding a static position(s) for 3-10 minutes. The main principle behind WBV is that a patient is exposed to 3D vibrations while standing/lying on the vibrating platform. The rapid vibrations force muscles to contract to maintain your position which ultimately provides a form of exercise. The vibrations stimulate muscle spindles and alpha motor neurons causing relaxation/contraction of muscles to enhance neuromuscular learning. Weight bearing along with vibratory perturbations will help to stimulate bone growth to avoid or reduce the effects of osteoporosis and loss of bone density in community dwelling adults. Significant improvements in gait speed and balance were also noted due to WBV mimicking natural perturbations during ambulation.

Benefits of WBV:

  • Increased bone density
  • Increased muscle and tendon strength
  • Improved muscle performance (power and coordination)
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased body awareness
  • Improve walking/functional balance
  • Pain reduction
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased spasticity
  • Improved lymphatic drainage


  • Acute injuries
  • Unhealed/recent fractures
  • Recent arthroplasty (joint replacement)
  • Cancer
  • Kidney/Gall stones
  • Pregnant women

WBV is a newly accepted form of treatment, and research has proven that WBV can be beneficial to a variety of diagnoses and populations. If you are interested in learning more about WBV or starting a WBV therapy program, ask your trusted Synergy physical therapist or check out the ‘Synergy Recovery Room’ for more details and other therapy options.

Kayla Roof, SPT

Student Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office







Leg Compression for Athletes Recovery

Athletes who undergo rigorous training often cause damage to their muscles and joints in which impacts further training and success. This damage can cause exercise-induced inflammation, repetitive stress and trauma to the muscles. Symptoms include soreness, swelling, and tenderness, in part secondary to local increased lactic acid resulting in decreased range of motion. Therefore, quick recovery is crucial for athletes to regain and strive for optimal performance in their sport. For athletes striving for optimal recovery and performance, mechanical compression has gained popularity, initially in the 2010 Olympics. Several research papers have shown usage of intermittent pneumatic compression may benefit recovery in athletes.

Physiology and Mechanism of Action synergy-3

Post exercise, the venous return is significantly reduced thus allowing for the build up of carbon dioxide, lactic acid and metabolic waste. The goal of compression is to massage and squeeze your muscles intermittently for a period of time. Research has shown this can decrease swelling and pain, enhance lymphatic return, and increase blood flow. This restore strength and endurance 10 times faster compared to rest alone. Compression is used to help flush out the lactic acid that can of build up after intense training. The use of intermittent pneumatic compression can help promote healing of the tissues by reabsorption of interstitial tissue and reducing metabolic waste. Proper recovery following exercise is important to repair the transitory and long- term impairments created by the stress of training and competition. Following rehydration, correcting the metabolic disturbances and restoring glycogen stores are paramount for recovery of exhaustive exercise. Theoretically, pneumatic compression can reduce the space available for swelling, hemorrhage and hematoma formation as well as providing mechanical support.


There are three primary treatment options available using compression. A typical treatment lasts no longer than 15-20 minutes.

  1. Pre-workout to benefit in warm up and promote blood flow
  2. Post-workout used to speed up muscle recovery, decrease muscle fatigue and stiffness
  3. Post rehab or injury to reduce edema and stiffness

Using this technique can speed recovery and relieve muscle soreness in a shorter period of time. Although research is limited in this field, the preliminary studies indicate this technique may help improve athlete’s ability to restore strength and endurance faster than rest. If you are interested in using lower extremity pneumatic compression pre or post-race, check out our newly opened Synergy Recovery Room. final-logo500pxYou may also visit our Recovery Room website by clicking on the logo to see other benefits of compression therapy and other services we offer to help take your training to the next level!


-Stephanie Kurica, SPT

Student Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South


The Ergonomics of RELAXATION

Most people think about ergonomics when they’re at a computer in an office. But what about during other activities that are more for relaxation—like gaming, watching a movie or just checking Facebook on your phone? Ergonomics applies to all the things we use our body for during the day—not just when you’re in the office at a desk. Here are some tips for activities that most of us do at some point during the day.

Checking your Phone

You may have heard the term “tech neck” or “text neck.” Well, it’s for real folks. Don’t bend your head over to view your phone or tablet. Instead move the device up into the viewing range OF YOUR EYES. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. Or just raising your hand to the level of your face in order to view the screen. And remember, your eyeballs can move! So, you can look down at your phone just by MOVING YOUR EYES and NOT your head.

Think about it this way: See the graphic below? Dr. Ken Hansraj did some pretty cool research to find out exactly how much pressure there is on the human neck when you bend your head forward to look at your phone. Even just a slight forward movement of the neck to view your phone can exponentially increase the amount of pressure on your spine, discs and muscles. At just 30 degrees of forward neck flexion, you get 40lbs of pressure…that’s equivalent to a 5 gallon jug of water! Check out the infographic from to get an idea of just how much pressure you are putting on your neck.


text neck copy

Via: <>

Watching TV

If your favorite chair is not ergonomically positioned in front of your TV, you are most likely craning your neck in order to view the show. Maintaining your neck in a rotated position for prolonged periods can cause joint dysfunction and muscle tension and/or imbalance which can lead to neck pain, headaches and even jaw pain. So, when you sit down tonight to watch your favorite flick, think about moving your furniture around to accommodate better viewing angles.


Think about the posture of gaming exactly like you would if you were in the office. You must have the control/joystick/keyboard at the right height for your arms. You must have the TV/monitor at the right height for your eyes. And finally you must support your spine in an upright posture.

CRW_1831Kelly BW

copyright 2009 CPTC

Reading a Book

Whether it’s a real book with paper pages or a digital book on your tablet, don’t bend your head down to view the pages (remember the graphic above!). Raise the pages up to your eyes. That may mean propping a pillow under your elbows in order to maintain the viewing height for prolonged periods while in a seated position. If you are lying down or reclining, perhaps bend your knees and support them with a pillow, then prop the book on another pillow on top of your knees.

Internet Surfing

If you spend more than about 15-30 minutes checking email, checking Facebook or hunting for that perfect pair of shoes, you need to arrange for proper ergonomics. If you’re using a tablet or phone, it may be as easy as using pillow to prop the device as described in the “Reading a Book” section above. But if you’re using laptop, you should really consider a docking station at a table or desk so that your neck and arms are at the proper level. Check out the Workrite Ergonomics website for details on proper ergonomics. Don’t slouch, get off the couch! You know who you are if this pic looks familiar!

6 ways to combat text neck.

Longus coli strengthening:


Noodle thoracic spine laying:

CRW_1659Jill BW

copyright 2009 CPTC


Pec doorway stretch:

Pec stretch door

copyright 2009 CPTC


Supine stability ball:

CRW_1715Ryan BW

copyright 2009 CPTC


Theraband Lat pull-downs:


Standing theraband row:


Blog by:

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMT

Physical Therapist/Owner – South Location


Foot Drop: The causes and anatomy

Do you or someone you know suffer from foot drop? Foot drop is a gait abnormality in which the dropping of the forefoot happens due to weakness, irritation or damage to afoot drop nerve, or paralysis of the muscle/s in the anterior portion of the lower leg. It is usually a symptom of a greater problem, not a disease in itself.

The most common cause of foot drop is injury to the peroneal nerve as it passes around the outside of the knee. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin and travels down into your foot. Because it sits very close to the surface near your knee, it may be damaged easily. This can be caused by prolonged compression of the nerve while sitting cross-legged or having your leg leaning against something, a sports or impact injury to the knee or lower leg, knee or hip replacement surgery.

Nerves are part of the “electrical wiring” system that carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Motor nerves carry messages between the brain and muscles to make the body move. Sensory nerves carry messages between the brain and different parts of the body to signal pain, pressure, and temperature. And most nerves, such as your peroneal, have both sensory and motor components.

Pressure or stretching injuries can cause fibers within the nerve to break. This may interfere with the nerve’s ability to send or receive signals, without damaging the insulating cover, similar to a wire you find in your home or electronic devices. However, nerves can heal, and with time, this injury is likely to fully heal and you can likely make a complete recovery.

When a nerve is cut, both the nerve and the insulation are severed. The end of the fiber farthest from the brain dies., but the end that is closest to the brain does not die and after some time, may begin to heal by developing finger-like sprouts that begins to look for its partner end. If those sprouts reach the other end, your function and/or sensation will be restored. If not, surgery may or may not work to repair the damaged nerve.

a1Compression of the peroneal nerve can lead to pain, numbness, and/or weakness to the foot, ankle, or outer portion of your lower leg. Once a nerve is injured the symptoms will typically occur below the site of injury and can last minutes or hours, or with a more severe injury, it can cause months or a lifetime of disability.

The common personal also has multiple branches that vary in function. Some branches just innervate our skin and so compression or injury to this portion may only cause numbness or a tingling sensation to our lower leg or foot. And then other branches support our muscles of the lower leg and foot, most notable being the anterior tibialis muscle that controls your ability to lift your foot off the ground.

The tibialis anterior muscle runs along the front to outside portion of your lower leg. It begins just below the outside of your knee, and inserts into your foot, just below the front of the ankle. The most important function of this muscle is to lift the foot during gait so you do not drag your toes on the ground, which can be a fall hazard. It also controls your foot as you strike the ground with your heal during walking, allowing your foot to slowly lower to the ground giving you more stability, and preventing the notorious foot slap that is associated with foot drop. When this happens, likely an AFO will be prescribed to improve that ankle stability and prevent tripping over your toes.

So there you have it. That is the basic anatomy and physiology of foot drop. If you think you may suffer from this condition, or just want to learn more about it. Stop by and see me or another one of our physical therapists today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office

Knee pain: It may be all in your hips

You’re trying to get yourself back into shape, eating healthy, hitting the stair master, lifting or jogging… everything you’re supposed to do right. BUT, after a couple weeks your knees start to bug you. You wonder: “Am I doing too much? Am I too old for this? What am I doing wrong?” Someone suggests shoe inserts, someone says don’t buy inserts. What next?

Knee pain can be a tricky and is also one of the most common issues we see. The knee is the center point of what us PTs (or to-be PT in my case) call the “kinetic chain” of the lower limb. This kinetic chain involves the lower back, hip, knee, ankle and foot. Dysfunction at any part of this chain can be the underlying cause of knee pain. Determining where and why this dysfunction is occurring is the key to solving most knee issues.

One of the first things we try to determine is if your legs are resting in similar alignment, if leg-length-discrepancy-not we call this a leg length discrepancy. Leg length discrepancies generally fall into two broad categories: structural or functional.

Structural discrepancies account for a very small percentage of what we see and stem from anatomical differences in the length or shape of the bones of the leg. This usually results from previous injury, illness or can be present from birth. Structural discrepancies are a little more challenging to treat dalton01__1_1_5760and sometimes require orthotics, inserts or other devices to help your body compensate for the anatomical differences.

With functional discrepancies, all the bones are the right size and shape but aligned incorrectly. This can be caused by a variety factors like posture, muscle imbalances, restricted joints or training errors. Functional discrepancies are usually correctible with manual therapy to realign the bones and exercise techniques to help the correction to stick. Shoe inserts are typically not useful for functional discrepancies because they don’t correct the underlying alignment issue and can actually lead to more problems.

It’s impossible to create a single solution that will fix every individual person’s pain and discomfort. Interventions must be tailored to each patient’s unique profile. Before investing in a pricey pair of orthotics it’s important to determine if you are actually likely to benefit from their use or if you would be better off with corrections and therapeutic exercise

Kit Durban, SPT

Physical Therapy Student, Boston University

Synergy North Clinic




Where to Find Quality Health Care Information Online

A violet stethoscope on a white laptop computerWith the growth of the Internet, we have at our fingertips an enormous, and almost inconceivable, amount of knowledge. There is no question that the Internet cannot answer! However, this does not mean that every answer it give us is true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do take what’s posted on the web as fact and make decisions base on the wrong or misguided information. Even the most reputable sources can get it wrong. So when searching the internet for answers, especially when it come to your health, remember that it is “User Beware!” However, there are more reputable sources that if and when you do seek health information, I’d rather have you looking at then a random article or a post on, for example. Here are some of the recommended sources for the most accurate and up-to-date health care information.

  • – A great resource for health related information and tools. They have expert medical practitioners on their staff that review all the published content and take extra measure to make sure they are providing credible information.
  • – Through its extensive research database, Medline provides the most up-to-date information on most health care topics with easy to use navigation tools, videos, illustrations, and dictionary of medical terms.
  • – Is a website that produces content provided by more than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers with ties to the world renown Mayo Clinic.
  • – Okay, so we had to put our website on this list! After all we provide a great resources through our website, newsletters, and blogs on orthopedic injuries, women’s health issues, health tips, and more. Check it out, we think you will be impressed!

As physical therapists we often have patients that will self-diagnosis or even self-treat due to health care information that they found online, even from these reputable sources. At times the patients have been correct and have performed the right stretches or exercises, but there are even more cases of patients who have either delayed their healing or made things worse by becoming their own doctor or physical therapist.  Just because you researched shoulder pain from one of these websites and came up with a diagnosis that fits your symptoms does not mean the diagnosis you think you have is the actual diagnosis. For example, if you have a torn shoulder muscle but through your research think you have tendonitis, which can present very similar to a tear, you could be doing the wrong treatments and making things worse. So use this information with a grain of salt and please do not disregard the value of a physical exam and diagnosis by a licensed medical professional.  If you do suffer from an injury your best bet is to stop by and see one of our physical therapists today. At our clinics you will get a personalized examination and diagnosis that will most often lead you to a quicker recovery. Call to schedule an appointment today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office


Pesky Plantar Fasciitis

      You have stretched, braced, iced, rolled, rested, strengthened, changed shoes and prayed to the plantar fascia gods but nothing is helping your chronic plantar fasciitis. You are not alone, it occurs in 10% of the population. Don’t worry your problem is correctable but may be related to more than your foot. Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain in active as well as sedentary adults of all ages. There are many causes that can include overuse, improper foot wear, obesity, sudden increase in duration and frequency of activities. Plantar fasciitis is defined as inflammation of the plantar fascia. With any inflammation, the stress causing the inflammation must be removed to completely treat the problem. In most cases, plantar fasciitis doesn’t resolve or keeps returning because the cause of the problem is not corrected. Common symptoms include, pain in the heel with the first steps in the morning, sharp, localized pain in the heel or arch, and slow decrease in pain with activity. With chronic plantar fasciitis, one must look past the foot and ankle.

The foot has 33 joints and 20 muscles, with the muscles and fascia attaching to the bones that make up the joints. The plantar fascia has many attachments throughout the foot. A lot can go wrong in such a small space. A joint that doesn’t move properly can cause a host of compensatory reactions in other joints and soft tissues in and around the foot. Joint restrictions can lead to changes in the way your walk, asymmetry in flexibility or limitations in your nerve mobility all the up the kinetic chain. These problems will turn an acute situation, into a chronic problem quickly if not corrected. So it is important to treat all systems to effectively heal the plantar fascia. The biggest problem may actually be in your lower back. The nerves that exit your lower back area are the ones that control the foot and ankle. A joint restriction in your lower back may be the actual cause of your plantar fascia. Restrictions in the lower back cause biomechanical alterations to the joints down the kinetic chain and can limit normal nerve mobility. All this can create abnormal stress to the foot and ankle, especially if combined with an activity like running.

Manual physical therapists will assess strength, flexibility, joint and soft tissue mobility, and nerve mobility of the entire lower quadrant to include lower back, pelvis, hips, knees and feet. We will correct for any joint restrictions throughout the kinetic chain to ensure a quick return to pain free living. Modalities may be appropriate to treat swelling, pain or inflammation. These can include ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, infrared and/or cold therapy. Exercises will be prescribed to normalize mobility and prevent further issues. Research shows that most cases of plantar fasciitis improve over time with these conservative treatments, and surgery is rarely required. So, if you are still dealing with plantar fasciitis, it is time to see a manual physical therapist at Synergy Manual Physical Therapy. In the meantime, be sure to rest as much as possible, perform stretching of the hips, plantar fascia and calf, massage the bottom of the foot and ice multiple times throughout the day. Hang in there; it will improve with the right care.

Kelly Haddock PT, COMT, ATC
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: What it is and why you need to know!

Female Hip / Sacrum / Pubis / Ischium / Ilium - Anatomy BonesThe pelvic floor is an important part of human anatomy. Considering how important it is, it always amazes me how infrequently the pelvic floor is discussed. It is responsible for correct bowel and bladder function, it is also responsible for normal sexual function. One could think of the pelvic floor as the structure that holds in and supports your insides. If the pelvic floor is weak due to trauma, abnormal muscle recruitment or injury, then the pelvic floor muscles are not equipped to support your internal organs, which can lead to other dysfunctions.

Some of the dysfunctions that can result from pelvic floor weakness is incontinence. That can include bladder and bowel incontinence. Incontinence means that you have diminished, or lack of control of, your bladder or bowel. Symptoms include leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing or any jarring movement. Other symptoms include increased frequency of going to the bathroom, difficulty starting the flow of urine, or very strong urges to empty your bladder but minimal volume with emptying.

Trauma to the pelvic floor can also lead to weakness. Trauma can include an injury to the hip, pelvis or back, can include sexual abuse, removal of the prostate due to cancer or can result from a very challenging childbirth experience. Sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor “forget” how to contract again once they have been traumatized. Or, if there is scar tissue, for instance after an episiotomy, then the muscles don’t contract as effectively. Sometimes after injury there is some loss of sensation and so the brain is unable to “find” the pelvic floor muscles in order to contract them and strengthen them.

There is another type of pelvic floor dysfunction that can lead to pain in the pelvic floor. Sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor get very shortened, tight and weak. This can lead to pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or constipation. Many times people with shortened pelvic floor muscles experience radiating pain in their lower back, buttocks or inner thighs and can be confused with a pathology of the back or hips.

While both of these dysfunctions cause problems, they are addressed differently. Both dysfunctions will eventually require strengthening and re-education. The shortened and tight muscles first have to learn to relax before they can be strengthened. Both dysfunctions can be addressed by a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor rehab. Men and women can both experience both of these dysfunctions.

For those who do not know how to do pelvic floor strengthening, or who perform the exercises incorrectly, here is a review of how to perform a kegel. Sometimes people read to try to stop and start the flow of urine when emptying their bladder. This is contradictory to how the body should function. I do not recommend that technique. The motion you are going to do is a “lifting” of the pelvic floor. Think of the pelvic floor like a sling or a hammock and when you contract the muscles it is lifting, or tightening the sling.  Once you get more familiar with contracting the muscles you want to perform two types of contractions. You want to hold them for a period of time, say 10 seconds. You can think of these muscles as postural muscles that require more endurance. You also need to perform quick, strong contractions. Think of these muscles as your sneeze muscles, as they help to support your organs when you sneeze.

If you find you have any of the above issues, or questions regarding your pelvic floor, please do not hesitate to contact me for a consultation or evaluation. I look forward to hearing from you!

Taresa Kenens, MPT, COMT
Owner and Pelvic Floor Specialist
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – North Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Herniated Discs (Part 2): Symptoms and Treatment

This blog is the second part of a two-part blog on herniated discs. In the first post we covered the anatomy of your spinal discs and the common injuries to these discs. You can visit that post by clicking this link. Today we will discuss the symptoms and treatment of a herniated disc and what you should expect when you see a physical therapist.


Just as no two people are the same, neither are our injuries. So this is a list of all possible symptoms but even just having one or two could indicate a disc injury, or you could even have a herniated disc without any symptoms. But on the flip side you could have two or more and actually not have a disc injury. (Are you thoroughly confused yet?) An evaluation from a physical therapist or medical doctor would be required to properly diagnose or rule out a herniated disc.  These are the most common symptoms of a disc injury:

  • Forward flexed posture
  • Increased pain in the morning or late at night
  • You don’t love sitting (standing might also not be that great due to more pressure on the disc)
  • Symptoms radiating down your leg or arm such as numbness, tingling, and/or pain
  • Weakness in arms or leg
  • Muscle cramping or tightness in your neck or back


Physical therapists can design treatment programs that help the discs heal and address any other associated issues the back and lower body have from compensating. The back will try to protect itself as you still try to function and it can result in muscle tightness and guarding, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, tension in the nervous system, core weakness, and injury to other structures in the spine (ligaments, joints, nerves) as the disc fails to do its job. Treatment of these related issues can help your pain and provide good stimulus for the disc to heal.  Additionally we can design exercise programs so you don’t risk re-injury.  You don’t have to become completely immobile while waiting to heal. For example walking 15-30 min can help pump nutrients to the disc to allow itself to repair.

Therapy can also involve “passive modalities” like traction, ultrasound, electric stimulation, heat and ice. These can help you feel better and promote healing, but you aren’t the type of person who lives your life laying down on a table. You need to lift, reach upwards, pick things off the ground, hike up 14,000ft while carrying a 20 lbs backpack.

Therapy will also include exercises to re-activate the small stabilizers (called the multifidus) of the vertebrae that “shut off” with low back pain. When these don’t work, the large muscles of the back to take over which leads to fatigue and spasm (aka more back pain and tightness). There is a large variety of simple to advanced exercises to work the muscles you need to and these aren’t your weight lifter grandma’s intense sit ups.

You might also be put through exercises to restore motion of the spine, improve the hydration of the disc and to improve flexibility of the lower limbs.  These help combat the stiff and “stuck” feeling of your low back.

Finally, PTs can teach you positions to ease your pain. Remember how I said sitting tends to be a painful position? Try a rolled up towel placed in the low back to maintain the natural curve. Don’t rely on the “lumbar support” from your desk chair or automobile seat. Don’t rely on a “one size fits all” for your specific back anatomy.

Low back bothering you through the day or at home? Try lying on the floor on your back with your hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees such as when you lay on the floor with your legs up on the sofa or a chair.


If after reading this you have further questions or suspect you may be suffering from a herniated disc, feel free to call us or stop by one of our offices to schedule an appointment with me or another therapist. One of the keys to a quick recover is to not only beginning to receive treatment right away, but also knowing what to do and what not to do. This is where we take each patient as an individual and create a specific program that matches your symptoms and abilities. So don’t waste any more time, come by and see us to get your back in shape and allow us to help you recover quickly and effectively.

Kacie Rognlie, PT

Clinic Manager – South Office

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Rehabilitation following a meniscus tear

So your doc said you have a meniscus tear? Ouch! And now you are wondering what rehabilitation will be like. This is going to depend on whether or not you had surgery and how bad the tear is. Small tears are common and can even heal on their own if in the right place, which is the outside one-third of the meniscus. This is due to the rich blood supply in that area. So if you are lucky enough to have chosen this place to tear it you are in better shape. Other tears, even small tears, that occur in regions without such a blood supply will not heal or may take extensive time to heal if they do. This is when your doctor may tell you surgery is your best option.

What is rehabilitation like following a meniscus tear?

As with everything about our bodies, it is difficult to compare one person to another due to our composition and genetic makeup. If you are a fit athlete who is in great shape chances are you will have a much faster recovery time than the couch potato. Rehabilitation following a meniscus tear begins with a baseline assessment of how much you are limited. Can you squat? Descend stairs without pain? Walk or stand for > 10 minutes? The answers to these will allow us to establish where in the rehabilitation plan you will begin.

Baseline rehabilitation will start with improving your strength and range of motion (ROM), typically in a non-weight-bearing manner. For strengthening we will have you do isometrics (a fancy way of saying contracting your muscle without movement), seated knee extensions to improve quad strength, and hip exercises that will improve the stability of your knee. To improve your ROM we may have you start on a stationary bike, lay down and then pull your foot toward you using a strap, ball, or slide it along the table.

Patients who are farther along may begin with light-weight bearing options such as small squats, stepping up and/or down on a small step, balance activities, leg presses and resistance exercises for the hip and knee. This will include the greater use of weights, elastic bands, and machines. We typically won’t be pushing you through any painful activities that are in the moderate to severe levels, especially if you have not had the knee surgery. And at this phase we will also be more aggressive with our ROM activities. In order to walk properly you will need 60-70 degrees of knee flexion, but for descending stairs (which is the most common complaint with a meniscus tear) you will knee 110-120 degrees. Note: between 130-145 degrees is a normal ROM for the average person.

Advanced stages of recovery will focus on function, function, function. Doing the things you need to be able to do to perform your activities of daily living or return to your sport. Of course, if you are returning to a sport it may take longer and be more intense than an individual just looking to return to walking and a desk job. Activities at this stage will be things such as walking on the treadmill, advanced stability exercises, running or jumping activities, stair or ladder climbing, squatting and lifting items off of the floor. This is when we try to make sure you are ready for any of the challenges you may face after you are discharged.

Meniscal tears are extremely common knee injuries, and with proper diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation patients often return to their pre-injury abilities. Even if you elect to try physical therapy first and your meniscus does not heal, you will be in a better position following your surgery. Recovery also depends on the motivation of the patient, so listen to your physical therapist and do your homework….. yes, you WILL have homework!

We wish you a great recovery and remember, at Synergy Manual Physical Therapy here in Colorado Springs we are always here to provide excellent rehab and answer any questions you may have. Call us today for an evaluation or you may also leave any questions in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you!
– Synergy Physical Therapy Team

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112