I have some exciting news… I was discharged from physical therapy this week!
I have been in physical therapy off and on since last October trying to figure out what was going on with my knee. You may or may not remember that I originally did PT to strengthen my leg muscles back in the fall, again with a new PT for rehab right after surgery and then most recently I did a stint of dry needling. I’ve worked with 3 different physical therapists and all were really great. But I’m glad that all of that is (hopefully) behind me.
Not too upset that I don’t have to shave my legs as often, either
I primarily had been in PT this 3rd time around for dry needling (you can read a more comprehensive recap of my experience here). I finished my 7th and final session last week. I was reluctant to try dry needling and originally stuck to traditional forms of therapy, but I’m definitely a believer now that I’ve done it. I noticed big differences in my pain level after each session. My move earlier this spring really exacerbated my knee pain to the point where it hurt to walk, and I found no relief at all until I tried dry needling for the first time.
I don’t have a needle phobia but I will be honest and say that the entire process gave me anxiety. The idea with the needles is to get them as deep into the muscle as possible. They are first placed into the surface of the skin and then pushed down deep… there are a few spots on my knee (like in the interior part of my kneecap) that really hurt. I stuck with it (<—see what I did there? haha) because I saw such drastic changes in my physical abilities.
I still have my baseline knee pain that I’ve had since last year, and I wonder if that will ever go away. Dry needling did not affect/decrease it. But I used to have major exacerbations in my knee pain after any attempt of physical activity, and dry needling has seemed to keep that at bay. Another thing is that my doctor really wanted me to build strength in my left leg, especially my quads, but these exacerbations really prevented me from doing so. The dry needling has helped me increase my physical activity and strength training, so hopefully this will help me in the long run.
I got dry needling every 5 days for several weeks and I wondered what would happen once I stopped. But I’ve spread the last few sessions out a bit and have done fairly well, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The center of my physical therapy treatment plan has always been and will continue to be to build strength in my legs- quads, hip flexors, etc. There is a strong thought that maybe my issue is stemming from weakness there, and my pain has prevented me from really building strength in the past. I guess time will tell if this is the case as I’m increasing my strength training. Something that I’ve really learned to do through PT is to work around my pain. For example:
- Lunges: do mini instead of full
- Wall sits: squat down as far as you can without discomfort… doesn’t have to be 90 degrees
- Leg press: press above and below the knee instead of doing full leg presses
Physical therapy really helped me get over my “all or nothing” mentality. There is usually an ‘in between’ when it comes to exercise
It has been almost a full year since I first hurt my knee, and I have spent LOTS of time thinking about it. It’s hard not to when something is somewhat out of your control and preventing you from doing things that make you happy. I have done physical therapy exercises almost every single day. I talk about my knee and obviously blog about it. There comes a time when an injury can really start to define you and your happiness.
Earlier this spring, I made a conscious effort to not let my injury dominate my thoughts. Instead, I tried to find happiness in the things I could do. I went on a hike a couple of weeks ago with my friend. We picked an easy trail and only hiked for about 45 minutes. In the past, I would have been upset and disappointed that I couldn’t do more. But instead, I just tried to be happy that I could hike at all and enjoy a beautiful day with my friend. My advice to others dealing with an ongoing physical issue is to just try to focus on the things you can do rather than the things you can’t. You will be a lot happier.