Acute Knee Injuries

Whether you play sport socially, professionally or not at all, a knee injury can put you out of action. An acute knee injury usually results from a sudden trauma. This may be anything from an awkward fall or collision to a twist of the knee.

There are a number of different structures in the knee joint that may be injured alone, or in combination, & this will largely depend on the mechanism of the injury. There are four main ligaments in the knee (the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, lateral collateral & medial collateral ligaments), all of which provide stability to the joint, & each of these can be torn if over-stretched. Your medial & lateral meniscus (cartilage) provide stability as & shock absorption to the knee joint, & they are more likely injured with a twist of the knee on a planted foot.

The symptoms of an acute knee injury can also give some indication of the structure injured. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, loss of movement, giving way, catching & locking of the joint.

If you have sustained an acute injury to your knee, it is important to follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method as soon as possible. Physiotherapy can begin very early after the injury, & will be important for good ligament healing & to facilitate the return of normal muscle & nerve function. And remember, you don’t need a GP referral for Physiotherapy.

Your physiotherapist will initially assess your knee to determine the extent & cause of your injury. They can also determine whether you will need to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon to discuss the possibility of surgery or refer you for an MRI if indicated.

Physiotherapy treatment will initially focus on minimizing pain & swelling, & move towards restoring range of movement, improving muscle strength & activation, improving balance & returning you to work/sport/daily routine as quickly & safely as possible. They can also provide a brace for support if needed, & will give you an individualised home exercise program to enhance your recovery.

Knee injuries that have not been rehabilitated or poorly rehabilitated are at risk of recurring injury & other secondary complications from residual weakness, tightness, instability & poor proprioception. Early management with accurate diagnosis is the most effective way of reducing this risk of persistent knee symptoms & the risk of recurrent knee injuries.

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