APTA Responds to Harvard E-Newsletter on Physical Therapist Role in Joint Pain

Re: 4 ways to put off joint replacement.

Dear Editor:

Your article advises trying nonsurgical approaches before turning to joint replacement surgery for hip or knee pain. Physical therapists, who are experts in restoring and improving motion in people's lives, can help patients avoid surgery and its risk of complications in many instances.

Your readers would have benefited by knowing that physical therapist services can provide a conservative, cost-effective, and evidence-based alternative for those affected by joint pain.

In the example of knee osteoarthritis mentioned in your article, a physical therapist can develop a customized program of strength training and functional exercises that will increase strength, endurance, and function of the leg muscles to help support the knee and reduce stress to the knee joint.

Your article also advises patients to seek pain relief through NSAIDS. While this approach may provide temporary relief, physical therapists help patients manage their pain, which can in turn allow them avoid the long-term use of prescription medications and their side effects, in many cases.

If joint replacement surgery is required, a physical therapist, in consultation with the surgeon, may have the patient participate in physical therapy prior to surgery to increase strength and motion, which can help with recovery after surgery. Once surgery is completed, a physical therapist will design a personalized rehabilitation program to help the patient gain the strength, movement, and endurance required to return to performing his or her daily activities.

Consult your physical therapist about specific ways to maintain your joint health. You can find out more about the benefits of physical therapist services and find a physical therapist near you at www.MoveForwardPT.com.

Most sincerely,

Emilio J. Rouco
Director, public and media relations
American Physical Therapy Association