Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) for Knee Surgery Recovery

BFR and Dr. Logan after knee surgery
Blood flow–restricted training (BFRT) has been suggested to treat lower extremity muscle weakness. The efficacy of BFRT for muscle problems related to knee pathology is unclear.
Westin et al published the following article in Sports Health titled "Blood Flow–Restricted Training for Lower Extremity Muscle Weakness due to Knee Pathology: A Systematic Review."
The authors set out to determine whether BFRT:
(1) improves muscle strength and cross-sectional area (CSA) for chronic knee-related lower extremity atrophy
(2) prevents muscle atrophy after knee surgery.
Controlled trials that used BFRT to treat chronic knee-related lower extremity muscle atrophy or to prevent muscle atrophy after knee surgery that measured the effects on quadriceps or hamstrings muscle strength or CSA were included.
The authors foujd BFRT was used after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and routine knee arthroscopy and in patients with knee osteoarthritis or patellofemoral pain.
There were a total of 165 patients and 170 controls.
Six of 7 studies that measured quadriceps strength reported statistically significant improvements after training.
Few benefits in quadriceps CSA were reported. There were no complications related to training.
In summary, the authors demonstrated that published limited data show BFRT to be safe and potentially effective in improving quadriceps muscle strength in patients with weakness and atrophy related to knee pathology.
To learn more, check out this The Sports Docs Podcast on BFR training with expert, Dr. Eddie Chang.
Dr. Catherine Logan Headshot Dr. Catherine Logan, MD, MBA Catherine Logan, MD, MBA, MSPT, is a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon specializing in complex knee and shoulder surgery at Colorado Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics (COSMO) in Denver, Colorado. As a former physical therapist & trainer, Dr. Logan provides a distinct expertise in sports injury, prevention, and surgical management.

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