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The knee is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body. An estimated 2.5 million knee injuries send young athletes to the emergency room every year. Given its importance in day-to-day movement, a knee injury can be highly disruptive and keep you from the activities you enjoy.
If you sustain a knee injury, you may experience pain, swelling, and stiffness. It may also be hard to put your weight on the injured leg or straighten the joint. You may hear some popping or crunching noises. If you feel sharp pain or suspect you may have sustained a knee injury, here’s what you should do.
PRICE is an acronym for protect, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It’s a simple treatment for knee injuries, like sprains, strains, bursitis, and tendonitis. The first step of the PRICE method is to protect the injured area. Then, make sure to rest and avoid the activity that triggered the symptoms in the first place.
Apply a cold compress to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this every two to three hours for the first few days after the injury. Ice can reduce swelling and inflammation. You may also alternate ice with a hot compress to release muscle tension.
Compression means wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage. Don’t wrap the bandage too tightly, since it can limit blood circulation. Lastly, elevate the injured area above the heart level. Elevation decreases swelling. You can prop your legs on pillows while sleeping or sitting down.
You can also take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce painful symptoms. Your knee doctor may also prescribe non-steroidal inflammatory drugs for pain relief.
It’s important to note that pain medications do not address the underlying source of pain; they can only reduce the severity of symptoms temporarily. Excessive medication use can also cause harmful side effects. Your knee doctor will explain how to speed up your recovery using a mix of drug and non-drug methods.
Physical therapy involves non-drug methods to relieve pain and restore function after injury, disease, or surgery. It can complement other treatment modalities, like medications. Some common physical therapy techniques include deep tissue massage or temperature therapy, among others. Your therapist will determine what type of therapy is best for you.
Exercise is a key component of physical therapy. During exercise, your body releases natural painkillers known as endorphins. That’s why it’s important to keep moving after an injury. Your physical therapist will design a personalized treatment plan that may include stretching, strength training, and aerobic exercises. They will guide you through these exercises and teach you how to do them at home.
If knee pain does not fade or gets worse after a few days of PRICE treatment, it’s time to visit your orthopedic doctor. Your healthcare provider can order diagnostic imaging tests to get a better look at the structures in your knee. Depending on their diagnosis, they may recommend injection therapy or physical therapy.
If you don’t respond to conservative treatments, your orthopedic doctor may consider surgery. Fortunately, there are minimally invasive surgical techniques that cut recovery time and reduce the risk of complications.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than treatment. As early as right now, you can take several steps to reduce the risk of a knee injury. A simple way to protect your knees is to wear protective equipment, especially if you participate in risky sports like rollerblading and biking. Knee guards can soften the impact of falls and prevent serious complications.
Make sure to warm up and cool down properly. Don’t overexert yourself during exercise. If you feel any pain, listen to your body and stop the activity.
You can also ask your orthopedic doctor for detailed guidance. They can review your form and technique and make recommendations to reduce the risk of injury. They can also spot and correct errors in your posture that may be putting excessive strain on the knee. If needed, they can refer you to a specialist for further assessment.
If you sustain a knee injury or would like to know how to prevent one, visit OUCH Orthopaedics. Our orthopedic specialists can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions that affect the knee joint.
We offer non-surgical and surgical treatments for knee injuries and conditions. If you are a candidate for surgery, you can rest easy in the capable hands of our orthopedic surgeon. We will also teach you how to prevent injuries from reoccurring and keep the joint strong.
To schedule a consultation with our providers, call us today at (800) 682-4220 any time. Give us a call today and let us help you move through life with ease and comfort.
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