Professor Goes from PT Skeptic to Believer

At first when Phern had knee pain she would literally “shake it off.” But after a while, the pain in her left leg was too much to ignore.

Phern could barely walk. Even standing was painful, which was problematic for a professor who needed to stand for hours during classes.

Phern walked for exercise, enjoyed taking Zumba classes, and she had a trip to Europe planned. So when she learned that she had osteoarthritis, Phern felt “shocked, depressed, and old.” When an MRI showed degenerative meniscal tears, Phern wondered if she would be able to continue to do the things she loved.

Her doctor recommended physical therapy, but Phern was skeptical.

“I knew others who had knee arthroscopy for their arthritic knee, I wondered if that was the way to go,” she said. “It could be a ‘quick fix.’ I didn’t understand how physical therapy would help my knee. Soon I learned that not only did I need an effective therapeutic treatment plan, but I needed to be educated about arthritis.”

Under the guidance of her physical therapist, Phern was educated about arthritis and worked on leg and hip strengthening and stretching, and on exercises to improve her balance. She continued her weekly cardio routine, making adjustments to be less damaging to her knees.

After 12 sessions, along with her home and gym exercise treatment plan, Phern made considerable progress. She could stand for hours—teaching without a problem—and she observed improvements in her strength, balance, and mobility. A few months later, Phern happily went on her European vacation, walking as many as 6 miles a day without difficulty. She also has walked two 5Ks with friends, and has more scheduled.

Phern continues to improve. Occasionally she feels tightness in her calf, but now she knows what exercises and stretches to do to relieve it.

“I was a skeptic, but now I am a believer in the benefits of physical therapy,” she said. “In the end, I am glad that I didn’t have the arthroscopic surgery. Now, I have the knowledge I need to keep my knees as healthy and pain free as possible. And if needed, I wouldn’t hesitate to seek out the assistance of skilled physical therapists in the future.”

*based on story from