Having a knee injury can be very painful, but it can also be hard to tell when it is necessary to go to a doctor or when it acceptable to stay home and rest it. Depending on your knee injury your pain can vary in the location and the severity of your knee pain. Some symptoms of knee pain is swelling and stiffness, redness and warmth to the touch, weakness or instability, and popping or crunching noises (Mayo Clinic, 2012). The problem is identifying how severe your knee injury based on the pain and symptoms you are feeling. Acute knee injuries can create pain and swelling and make it hard to bend your knee and put any weight on it as well.
If your knee swells immediately after you injure it could be suggested that it is a ligament tear or fracture. However if the swelling appears over a few hours a meniscal or cartilage injury would be more common (emedicinehealth, 2012). Although, not all knee injuries are the same and you can have symptoms that don’t match up with your injury. In an ACL injury or in injuries in other ligaments it is often hard to diagnose, but some of the symptoms is sudden and very severe pain, a loud pop or snap during the injury, swelling, a feeling of looseness in the joint and the inability to put weight on your knee without pain.
If these injuries are not treated at the time they happen, they can often act up months or years later and make your knee give out when you twist or pivot (WebMD, 2012). When a person tears their meniscus they will generally feel some pain, especially when the knee is straighted. The pain can be mild to severe depending on how badly it is torn. Swelling can occur soon after the injury or hours later depending on where it is torn. After the injury the knee may lock, click, feel weak, or give out. These symptoms may go away on their own, but they will frequently return and require treatment (ASMF, 2012).
Treatment for such knee injuries varies depending on the type of injury and the severity or grade of your injury. Grade 1 injuries are the least severe and patients would commonly have full range of motion. Grade 2 injuries are more severe and you would have slight swelling and stiffness. Grade 3 injuries are the most severe and sometimes require surgery (ASMF, 2012). Just about all knee injuries require a visit to the doctor. If your knee injury is not very severe or a grade 1 or 2 the doctor will tell you to rest your knee and avoid putting access weight on it.
You may need to use crutches for a short period of time. You will also need to use ice to reduce the pain and the swelling of your knee. You will need to ice it for about 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for a few days until the swelling is gone. You also have to compress your knee using elastic bandages or wraps to control the swelling. Elevating your knee is also important to do when you are sitting or lying down. Just simply prop it on a pillow. You may also need to wear a knee brace to stabilize your knee and to protect it from further injury (webMD, 2012).
For very severe knee injuries or grade 3 you may need surgery to attach the ligament back to the bone if it was pulled away or detached in the middle. Unfortunately, some ligaments cannot be repaired once they are torn, for example the ACL. The only option for a torn ACL is reconstruction surgery when you take tendons or other parts of your leg, or a cadaver and use it to replace the torn ligament. This surgery is not necessary and many people chose not to go this route and take the risk of having some pain in that knee forever (emedicinehealth, 2012).
Mostly professional athletes and people with very severe pain undergo this complicated surgery. Another option to help gain strength back in your knee is to participate in physical therapy. Physical therapy helps to straighten the muscles around your knee to make it more stable. This process focuses on muscles in the front and back of your thighs. This also helps to improve your balance (Mayo Clinic, 2012). As you can see there are a lot of different things you can do to treat your knee injuries depending on the severity of the injury itself.
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