Whether you play sport socially or professionally, or are just running around after the kids, a knee injury can put you out of action for weeks, if not months. Physiotherapists provide expert advice and treatment to speed up healing and get you active again.
TYPES OF KNEE INJURIES
Acute Injuries: Result from a sudden trauma, such as a fall or collision, or twist playing sport.
Overuse Injuries: Result from overload or over activity, such as running, cycling or bushwalking. These start gradually, relating to a range of factors including structural problems, training methods or technique.
COMMON KNEE INJURIES
Acute Injuries: May injure the ligaments and menisci (cartilate) of the knee.
Ligament Sprain (or tear)- Ligament stabilise or strengthen joints. Over-stretching can cause tears to the ligament fibres, resulting in bleeding, pain, swelling and instability.
Cartilage (meniscal) tears – The knee cartilages (or menisci) also provide stability to the knee joint. They are mostly torn during weight bearing activities that involve twisting and turning. A torn cartilage (or meniscus) resutls in pain, swelling and locking or catching of the knee joint.
Management Tips – Many injuries may be treated without surgery by physiotherapy treatment and supervised rehavilitation. If damage is severe, surgery may be required to repair the injured tissue. Physiotherapists work closely with medical practitioners, sports physicians and orthopaedic surgeons to provide effective recovery and rehabilitation.
Overuse Injuries: To the knee are much more common than actue injuries usually affecting the patellofemoral joint or patellar tendon. If left untreated they usually get progressively worse. Early diagnosis and treatment may result in a quicker recovery.
Patello-femoral syndrome – Patello-femoral or kneecap) pain affects approximately 20% of the population, and is associated with activites that increase the load on the knee, such as bending, squatting or stair climbing.
Patellar tendinopathy – the patellar tendon joins the thigh muscle to the leg bone. Injury to this tendon may be known as “jumper’s knee”, because it commonly occurs with repeated jumping and landing activities *(basketball, volleyball etc).
Management tips – Physiotherapy treatment is essential to reduce the pain and disability associated with overuse knee injuries. In addition, phyhsiotherapists are well trained to address potential aggravating factors that may have contributed to the development of the overuse injury.
CAN KNEE INJURIES BE PREVENTED?
You can reduce the chance and severtiy of knee injuries by:
- Warm and up and warm down before and after exercise.
- Build up your exercsie program by gradually increasing the frequency, duration and intensity, but don’t work through the pain.
- Maintain good general fitness and lower body strength and flexibility (especially calf, quadricep and hamstring).
- Practise standing on one leg to improve your balance and leg muscle strength.
WHEN TO RETURN TO WORK/SPORT
Your physiotherapist will discuss the injury with you and estimate the time it will take to recover. This will vary from weeks to months, depending on the severity of the injury. The pain and swelling associated with an acute injury subside much quicker than the time it takes for the ligament and muscles to regain normal strength. Returning to work or sport too early may delay healing and prolong recovery.
Your physiotherpiast can teach you how to tape your knee, or fit you with a knee brace if required.
Your physiotherapist can help you to plan alternative ways to maintain your fitness and msucle strength while you are recovering from your knee injury.
HOW CAN PHYSIOTHERAPISTS HELP?
Your physiotherapist will examine your knee to determine the type, extent and causes of your injury, and can order an X-ray or refer you to a doctor if needed.
Early treatment will reduce any pain or swelling. Special techniques called mobilisation may help to increase your knee joint motion if required, improving your recovery. Your physiotherapist will teach you exercsies to improve the strength of the knee and other lower leg muscles to enhance your recovery and help prevent further injuries.
TIP – Avoid any of the HARM factors in the first 48 hours after a sprain to prevent increased swelling and help your recovery.
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