There’s nothing worse than landing awkwardly on the basketball court, making a quick turn in your touch game, or twisting in the soft sand and feeling something ‘go’ in your knee. There is usually some instantaneous pain which may or may not continue, and often it is difficult to walk normally. This is an acute knee injury.
There are lots of things that can go wrong in the knee; fractures, ligament injures, cartilage or meniscus damage, muscle tears, bursal irritation or tears or a combination of any of these.
The best thing to do immediately is to apply ice (crushed ice wrapped in a wet towel) to the knee for 10-15 minutes (repeat this 3-6 times over 24 hours). While you are not icing it apply some compression to the knee, either a tubi-grip bandage, or crepe bandage, and wear this during the day only. At night try to keep the knee slightly elevated if you can. If it is very painful to put weight on the affected leg you may like to use crutches for a short time.
Physiotherapy for Acute Knee Injuries
When to seek treatment:
- If there is obvious swelling of the knee
- If the knee is giving a painful ‘click’ or ‘clunk’
- If the knee is giving way
- If the knee is locking
- If you are unable to weight bear normally through the affected leg
What is the next step?
Your physiotherapist can often get a good idea of what is going on in your knee without needing any further investigations (such as MRI’s or X-rays). If further investigations are required your physiotherapist can refer you for scans and to an appropriate specialist.
Your treatment may initially involve bracing or taping, exercises and/or stretches, and gait reeducation. As your injury improves, your physiotherapy will encourage a graduated return to sports/work, depending on the type of injury and what load your activities place on your injury. Remember the earlier you start treatment, the faster you will recover.