The knee is a relatively simple joint, however it performs a complicated task. The knee needs to function properly to provide flexible mobility while bearing considerable weight. When walking down the street, our knees bear three to five times our body weight. Some people are more likely to develop knee problems than others. Many jobs, sports and recreation activities, getting older, or having a disease such as osteoporosis or arthritis increase the chances of having a knee problem.
ACUTE INJURIES: Injuries are the most common cause of knee problems. Sudden (acute) injuries may be caused by a direct blow to the knee or from abnormal twisting, bending the knee or falling on the knee.
OVERUSE INJURIES: Overuse injuries occur with repetitive activities or repeated or prolonged pressure on the knee. Activities such as stair climbing, bicycle riding, jogging, or jumping stress joints and other tissues and can lead to irritation and inflammation.
HOW PHYSIOTHERAPY CAN HELP
Your physiotherapist will examine your knee to determine the type, extent and causes of your injury. 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. Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and reduce the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- As soon as possible, and for 72 hours after injury, use the RICE method:
- Rest -Take it easy and only move within your limit of pain.
- Ice -As soon as possible, and for 20 minutes every two hours, apply ice or a frozen gel pack wrapped in a damp towel. This helps to control bleeding and pain and reduces secondary tissue damage.
- Compression -Firmly bandage the knee and include 5 cm above and below the joint. This helps to control swelling.
- Elevation -As much as possible, elevate your leg higher than the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
- Joint mobilisation
- Electrotherapy (e.g. ultrasound)
- Soft tissue massage
- The use of an appropriate brace
- Activity modification advice
- Biomechanical correction
- Exercises to improve strength, balance, flexibility, and fitness
- Muscle-strengthening program
- A gradual return to activity plan
- Correct footwear advice
Recovery can start very early after an injury. Physiotherapy rehabilitation techniques will help reduce
the time that your knee is painful and movement is restricted so that you can get back to work and sport more quickly. Rehabilitation also facilitates a good quality ligament repair and the return of normal muscle and nerve function.
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