David Paulson PT knee painDavid Paulson, PT, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist with over 30 years of experience. As a professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP), Paulson teaches courses in the musculoskeletal portion of our DPT curriculum. Aside from his teaching responsibilities, he works two mornings each week at Intermountain Healthcare where he specializes in the feet, ankles, knees, hips,  the back, and neck. He especially enjoys working with challenging patients like those with headaches or jaw pain. Paulson was joined on the RMUpload podcast by one of his patients, Cynthia Richards, to discuss the process of recovering from a knee injury.

When to Seek Out Physical Therapy

Pauslon explained that “as a patient, it’s wise to identify your limitations in your ability to do things.” You should see a physical therapist “if there are things you love that you’re not able to do because of pain or limited mobility. Physical therapy can help people through the generations, whether infants in a pediatric care setting or those who are young and play sports or those who have had surgeries and hope to get back to where they were before surgery.”

But it’s not just a one-time visit and the patient is back to normal again. “Going to physical therapy can be frustrating because you want to be better now,” explained Paulson, but it can be a long and demanding process.

Cynthia’s Process through Physical Therapy

Richards was an avid runner, hiker, and biker. A microfracture in her knee led to sudden knee surgery. After surgery, Richards started physical therapy. “Beginning physical therapy wasn’t easy. I didn’t have any idea of how much was going to be required for me. It was emotionally, mentally, and physically difficult. The physical therapist was key in reassuring me that it was possible but that it would take a lot of work and be patient with myself.”

After going through physical therapy post-surgery, Richards returned to her active lifestyle, but over time returned to physical therapy two more times. Each time she returned it required her to commit to doing the prescribed home exercises from minutes to hours each day. 

Paulson explained that “the foot, the knee, the hip–they are an interconnected chain. If one thing isn’t moving or functioning well, then it really affects the other. The knee is considered a stable joint, so if the foot or ankle isn’t stable, then that can affect the knee. In physical therapy, we term this the ‘interrelatedness’ of the parts of the human body.”

Preventing Further Injury

Physical therapists look at a range of issues that might be limiting mobility or causing pain. “We work on appropriate flexibility, which means making sure the joint moves the way it should,” said Paulson. “Regular exercise and movement and keeping weight under control helps our general health and, therefore, helps our joint health as well.”

He adds, “And when old injuries start to creep back up, be patient about the recovery process.”


Listen to the entire RMUpload episode here