Knee injuries can be life altering and debilitating. Recovery varies from a couple of days, to weeks, months or even years. The varying levels of knee injury can determine the length of recovery time or whether complete recovery is possible.
Things You'll Need
- Ice and/or heat
- Elastic Bandage or Brace
- Hard Work
R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation: These are the 4 major principles to follow immediately after any injury. Rest will keep you from further injuring the weakest or most vulnerable parts of your knee. Ice can help decrease the inflammatory response and pain levels of your injury. Compression using an elastic bandage or brace can help give your knee the support that your own muscles cannot give. Elevation can prevent extreme inflammation which can cause further injury to the affected area.
Diagnosis: After any injury it is best to seek the care of a medical professional. It is always important to understand what you are trying to rehabilitate before beginning any injury recovery program. The earlier you get a diagnosis the better the chance to determine what needs to be done in terms of planning a treatment and recovery program.
Sprains and Strains: Depending on your physician's plan of action, there are several different methods that can be used to help rehabilitate a knee injury. For a simple sprain or strain, R.I.C.E is typically sufficient to help your knee return to its normal functionality. Depending on the severity of the sprain, crutches or a brace may be required for a few days up to a couple of months. Every person's recovery time varies depending on the extent of the injury.
Meniscus Tears: This injury is much more difficult to heal. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that sets between the bones in your thigh and lower leg. This cartilage is avascular, meaning it does not get blood flow (or receives very little blood flow). Blood flow is necessary as the body attempts to heal itself. Without this blood flow, meniscal injuries rarely heal on their own- surgical intervention may be necessary if locking, sticking or pain continue past a month or two, or if pain levels and inflammatory response increase over time. Crutches are typically necessary and can help you rest your knee as you heal.
Fractures: There are several bones in the area which include the patella (kneecap), femur (thigh bone), tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). Fractures to these bones typically take time to heal along with R.I.C.E., or may require surgical intervention if the fracture is severe.
ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL tears: These are the ligaments that help keep your knee in place. They are thick bands of ligament (holding bone to bone) that prevent your knee bones from shifting too far forward, backward or side-to-side. If torn, there is the possibility of healing; however, if any of the ligaments are severed it will most likely lead to surgical intervention. Braces and crutches can help alleviate pain, discomfort and joint instability in addition to starting a strengthening program upon the approval of your physician.
Strengthening: After the acute injury has occurred, and you are no longer at risk of reinjuring the affected area, strengthening will be necessary. Beginning with a light rehabilitation program you can build your strength and increase the stability of the affected joint. Strengthening will be necessary to regain most (if not all) of the previous function- but make sure to discuss your rehabilitation options with your physician, therapist or personal trainer who has experience with your specific injury.