Knee Injuries

Published: 17 Aug 2015

Knee Injuries

Jude Holroyd, the Principal Physiotherapist at our Jordan Springs practice considers the impact of knee injuries.

Whether you play sport socially or professionally, a knee injury can put you out of action. Physiotherapists provide expert advice and treatment to speed up recovery and get you active again following a knee injury or surgery.

When thinking about knee injuries we can broadly classify them into two categories; acute knee injuries and overuse knee injuries.

Acute injuries often result from trauma, an awkward fall, a collision or a twist of the knee joint, and will usually cause a high level of sudden knee pain.

Overuse injuries on the other hand result from continuous activity or overload, this can be a long period of running, jumping, cycling, weight training or bushwalking. Unlike acute injuries there may not be a specific event which causes the pain. Overuse injuries happen gradually and can be related to a number of factors such as structural or biomechanical problems, training methods, footwear, technique or running style.

Acute Injuries can involve ligaments or cartilage

Ligaments stabilise joints, they can be over stretched or sprained, and if the injury is severe enough can result in a tear causing pain, swelling, loss of movement and giving way or instability.

The cartilage in our knees also provide stability to the knee joint, however they act as shock absorbers. Cartilage or Meniscus damage occurs commonly with weight bearing activities that involve twisting and turning. A torn cartilage will result in pain, swelling and commonly locking or catching of the joint.  Knee pain will come on over time.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are a lot more common than acute injuries. They usually affect the Patello-Femoral joint which is the knee cap. If left untreated overuse knee injuries often become progressively worse.

Patello-femoral syndrome or knee cap pain affects approximately 20% of the population, and is associated with activities such as bending, squatting or stair climbing.

Patellar tendinopathy is pain of the tendon which joins the thigh muscle to the leg bone. It is often referred to as “jumper’s knee” because it commonly occurs with repeated jumping and land activities such as basketball and volleyball.

Management tips

Many injuries can be successfully treated without surgery by physiotherapy, whether the injury be an acute or an overuse injury. If the damage is severe surgery may be required, we work closely with the local Medical practitioners, Sports physicians and Orthopaedic surgeons to assist recovery, rehabilitation and safe return to sports.

Can Knee injuries be prevented?

You may reduce the chance and severity of knee injuries if you:

  • Warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise
  •  Maintain good flexibility, especially calf, hamstring and quads length
  • Build up your exercise program, gradually increase the frequency, duration and intensity of your exercise program, don’t work through pain.
  • Practice standing on one leg to improve your balance and strength, compare sides to see if there are any differences.
  • If you are looking for a good stretching regime click here

What to do after a sprain?

  • Rest, take it easy and only move within you limit of pain.
  • Ice, as soon as possible, 20 minutes on 20 minutes off every hour to reduce swelling, decrease any internal bleeding and decrease pain.
  • Compression, firmly bandage the knee and include 5cm above and below the joint to help control swelling.
  • Elevation, elative the leg as much as possible, this means having the leg above the level of the heart, this will also help reduce swelling.
  • Refer, if you are unsure of what is going on refer to a Physiotherapist or Health Professional for further advice and management.

Rehabilitation and return to work/sport

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 return to work and sport as soon as possible.

As physiotherapists we will discuss your injury with you and estimate the time that it will take to recover, treatment options and how quickly you can be back at sport.

Treatment will initially be focused on diagnosing the source of the pain, reducing pain and swelling, taping and bracing if required and gradually strengthening and safe return to sport. Returning too early may delay healing and prolong recovery.