Your PT May Have Been a Patient Too

My name is Laura Conran, Doctor of Physical Therapy at our Grandville clinic, and I had a partial knee replacement in August of 2021 and needed physical therapy. This is my journey.

Knee pain was something that I have dealt with since I was 11 years old. I would wear knee braces, go to physical therapy, get McConnell taped, and lift weights. It was always there but would vary in intensity depending on my activity level. I loved to run and play volleyball – my knees didn’t like it as much. I remember in college, I would walk back to the dorms with bags of ice wrapped around my knees. It was my norm.

Fast forward to having my first child in my mid-thirties. I felt great during pregnancy. When my son was about 5-6 months old I was trying to get back into running and playing volleyball and my knees were not having it. Both knees swelled up to the point that I could hardly walk, get out of a chair or go up and down the stairs. Something had to be done.

I tried orthopedic interventions – injections, medications, draining the knee, and going to physical therapy. Nothing was totally helping. The orthopedic surgeon said I needed a knee replacement, but he said if I got one at 36 years old, I better be ready to get my leg amputated. A bit drastic of a statement, but I understood what he was trying to say, that if I had that major of surgery this young, there could be bigger issues if things didn’t work out as I got older. He also referred me to a rheumatologist. I thought he was ridiculous, I didn’t have rheumatoid arthritis. This was good old Arthur, regular osteoarthritis that had just gotten bad.

Well, bloodwork did show that I had an inflammatory issue. I was able to manage my symptoms with medication and lifestyle modifications for a while, but then another major flare-up occurred when my second child was about 8 months old. I battled with meds and treatments for over a year and a half and finally knew that the only next option was surgery.

I’m so thankful I had a partial knee replacement and having been a patient, I have gained new perspectives as a physical therapist. I feel I am able to relate to some of my patients in new ways and am more compassionate and aware of how exercises or manual techniques feel and make the patients feel. Next time you see your physical therapist, know that maybe they have been in your shoes too.

Are you in pain but not sure how to manage it? Call 616-256-8679 to schedule your FREE consultation today and learn how physical therapy could help you. For more information please visit any of our Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy locations or check out our website at www.hjphysicaltherapy.com.

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Kendra Walters, MSPT