When Can A Patient Return To Work
This is a common question after knee replacement surgery and entirely depends on the nature of work the patient performs as part of their occupation. For those patients who work in jobs that are relatively sedentary such as office work, returning to work after 2 to 3 weeks is perfectly reasonable however, for patients whose work demands more of them physically, e.g., fireman, police officer, these patients are usually recommended to wait at least 6 weeks before returning to work.
This is because muscle recovery is usually sufficient by 6 weeks to allow for the normal duties of these more physically demanding occupations at this point in time. However, it is also a case that even for the more physically demanding occupations, if a modification of these duties is available to the patients for the postoperative recovery period then this would potentially allow for an early return to work.
The Injured Knee Ligament
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue. They stabilize our joints and keep our bones together. Our knees have many ligaments. But, four are prone to tears:
Anterior cruciate ligament
This ligament often sprains during sports. Most cases happen after twisting the knee or changing directions. Thus, ACL sprains are common in running and contact sports.
Most of these sprains are severe. So, the recovery tends to be the longest from 4 to 18 months. This period includes surgery and sports-specific physical therapy.
Posterior cruciate ligament
This ligament is twice as strong as the ACL, so PCL sprains are less common. They happen after an extreme force pushes the shin bone with the knee bent.
PCL sprains can happen during car accidents if the dashboard pushes into the bent knee. They can also happen after falling on your knees.
They can take up to 9 months to recover. The treatment is conservative most of the time.
Medial collateral ligament
This ligament is on the inner side of the knee. It can get sprained if the knee bends suddenly inward. Like when running and changing directions.
MCL sprains are common in sports settings. So, most MCL injuries can involve other knee structures. Like the ACL and/or the medial meniscus.
Mild and isolated MCL sprains can take 4-6 weeks to heal. They can take longer depending on the severity and other structures affected.
Lateral collateral ligament
Overuse Injury #: Patellar Tendinitis
The patellar tendon connects the patella to the tibia . It helps you extend your knee. If you play a jumping or running sport, you might be at risk for overuse of the patellar tendon. You can develop patellar tendinitis or inflammation of the tendon. Usually you will not need surgery. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, and physical therapy can help you eliminate the pain.
Occasionally, adults with pain in the front of the knee develop tendinosis of the patellar tendon. A small area of degeneration develops within the tendon rather than inflammation. You might still avoid surgery, but the recovery can be slower.
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Knee Injury Risk Factors
- Sports – Many sports require movements that place added stress on your knees Skiing, for example, can lead to stress on the knees due to the restricted movement of your feet. Another example is basketball where players have to pivot and jump. These sudden and repetitive movements can put stress on the knees.
- Previously injured knee – If youve already hurt your knee once, then it may not be as strong as it was before. Unfortunately, this could make it easier for you to injure your knee again.
- Excessive weight – If you put on a lot of weight, your bones have more work to do to support that mass. For those who are very overweight, even ordinary daily activities can cause wear and tear on the knees.
- Weak muscles – A lack of strength and flexibility in your muscles can also contribute to knee injuries. Strong muscles protect bones and joints. Aside from this, they also make you very stable and balanced, thereby decreasing the risk of falls.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop knee injuries simply because of how their bodies are built, for example, the way their hip bone is attached to the thigh bone and the fact that they carry greater mass on the lower body.
Go To Physical Therapy
This is one of, if not the best way to heal a sprained knee fast. A physical therapist will check your knee and give you a treatment that will:
- Keep your range of motion. That way you wont lose it during your recovery.
- Enhance your knee sprain healing even more.
- with stretches and other exercises.
- Help you return to normal as fast and safely as possible.
Having said that, quality physical therapy is one thats personalized. So, find a physiotherapist specialized in your needs return to sports, managing chronic conditions, for children, or the elderly, for example.
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Weeks 2 To 6 Of Your Recovery
Once the pain and swelling have settled, you may be advised to increase or change your exercises. Your physiotherapist will advise you about what exercises to do.
The exercises will help you to:
- fully extend and bend your knee
- strengthen your leg muscles
- begin to walk properly
After 2 to 3 weeks, you should be able to walk without crutches.
As well as specific exercises, activities that do not put much weight on your knee may also be recommended, such as swimming for fitness and cycling. Visit the website of charity Cycling UK for advice.
The Anatomy Of The Knee
Before looking into how to rehab your own injury, it is important that you understand a bit of the anatomy of the knee. This will make it easier to follow the instructions later on.
There are several main muscles that surround the knee. The first set is the Quadriceps muscles, which are grouped on the anterior side of your thigh and attach to the knee via the Quadriceps Tendon. On the posterior of your thigh you have the Hamstring muscles, which attach to the knee via the Hamstring tendon.
The bone structure of the knee is made up of the Femur , the Patella and the Tibia . There are two types of ligaments in the knee. The Collateral ligaments are found on the sides of your knee, while the Cruciate ligaments cross over the knee.
Finally, the Meniscus is a type of fibrous cartilage that provides support, stability, and shock absorption for the knee.
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Do Stretches Or Exercises
Only do stretches or exercise if your physician recommends them. When you do start exercising, the stiffness and pain will gradually subside. You can consult your doctor and ask them to refer you to a physiotherapist who will then walk you through the appropriate rehabilitation exercises that will help you heal faster. They wont guarantee immediate recovery, but they will surely be helpful, and may even prevent re-injury. If youre exercising at home, remember to take it slow, stop if it gets too uncomfortable, and take deep breaths.
Knee injuries are very common, but very treatable as well. In most cases, you need to apply RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. That means you should avoid any strenuous activities when your knees are injured, and apply ice for some time until the swelling is gone. Apply compression by wrapping an elastic band or strap around your knee, and raise your leg so that it is at a higher level than your heart. If youre still in severe pain, consult your doctor and ask them to prescribe painkillers. It would also be wise to see a physiotherapist. They will guide you through specific stretches and exercises that help speed up the healing process.
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Professional Help For Knee Injuries
- Aspiration if the knee joint is grossly swollen, the doctor may release the pressure by drawing off some of the fluid with a fine needle.
- Physiotherapy including techniques to reduce pain, kneecap taping, exercises for increased mobility and strength, and associated rehabilitation techniques.
- Arthroscopic surgery or keyhole surgery, where the knee operation is performed by inserting slender instruments through small incisions . Cartilage tears are often treated with arthroscopic surgery.
- Open surgery required when the injuries are more severe and the entire joint needs to be laid open for repair.
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How Is Knee Pain Treated After A Fall
Treatment for a knee injury caused by a fall usually involves rest and if necessary, a brace to stabilize the joint. In most cases, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as ibuprofen , may be helpful.
Minor knee injuries can often be treated at home. However, its important to see a doctor if symptoms worsen or if the pain is accompanied by:
- significant joint swelling
- an inability to bear weight
- a feeling of giving way
- other signs of ligament or tendon damage
When the injury is serious, surgery may be necessary to restore function and eliminate pain.
Slowly Incorporate A Range Of Motion Into Your Recovery
After staying off your knee for a few weeks, you can slowly start adding a range of motion to your daily exercises. Adding more movements that increase the range of motion of your knee helps strengthen supportive muscles and ligaments. Wait until your knee is recovered enough for you to put weight on it without pain.
At this stage, you can use hip abductions, bridges, hamstring curls, and lunges to build your strength back slowly. Over time, you can add in backward lunges and jogging sideways to get your knee comfortable moving in all directions.
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How To Recover From A Knee Injury Without Losing Strength
Fortunately for those who are concerned with finding out how to recover from a knee injury and maintain leg strength without excessive pain, there are plenty of ways you can carefully work your muscle without aggravating an existing issue, or making an injury worse. Most of the time, this simply means speaking to your doctor or physical therapist about the gentle exercises that you can use to regain mobility in the injured joint. For instance, some experts may recommend using anisometric contraction , to maintain strength in the muscle while the joint continues to heal.
Keep in mind that during the stages of recovery that follow after your initial resting phase, your aim shouldn’t be to work the muscle as hard as possible. Instead, you should be pushing the muscle to work just a little bit more each day so that it can recover and repair itself properly. If you’re worried about your chosen exercise regime, or you need advice choosing exercise solutions that are safe, remember to speak to your doctor, or talk to a physical rehabilitation expert for additional guidance.
How To Treat A Knee Sprain
This article was co-authored by Jonathan Frank, MD. Dr. Jonathan Frank is an Orthopedic Surgeon based in Beverly Hills, California, specializing in sports medicine and joint preservation. Dr. Frank’s practice focuses on minimally invasive, arthroscopic surgery of the knee, shoulder, hip, and elbow. Dr. Frank holds an MD from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. He completed an orthopedic residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and a fellowship in Orthopedic Sports Medicine and Hip Preservation at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. He is a staff team physician for the US Ski and Snowboard Team. Dr. Frank is currently a scientific reviewer for top peer-reviewed scientific journals, and his research has been presented at regional, national, and international orthopedic conferences, winning several awards including the prestigious Mark Coventry and William A Grana awards.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 20 testimonials and 87% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 593,723 times.
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Visit A Physical Therapist
If you have a knee injury, its important to see a physical therapist specializing in treating injuries. Physical therapy for knees and joints can be effective in helping you recover from a knee injury.
The physical therapist can help you learn how to perform exercises that will strengthen the muscles in your leg. They can also show you how to do exercises that will help protect your knee when doing activities that put stress on it.
Overuse Injury #: Tibial Plateau Stress Fracture
Stress fractures of the knee are not as common as they are in the lower leg, ankle and foot. The tibial plateau is the top part of the tibia at the knee. A runner can suffer a stress fracture in this area and face aggravating knee pain. Like most stress fractures, this one results from an increase in training or not enough time to rest. You will feel the pain in a small area in the bone just below the joint line. You might notice increasing pain during running that takes longer to go away. Treatment involves limiting impact on that area. Doctors usually advise patients to stop training until the fracture heals.
It can be a good idea to see a doctor or orthopedic surgeon soon after pain from a knee injury develops. Most of these overuse knee injuries do not need surgery if you havent had pain for long. Rest, activity modification, physical therapy and other treatments can usually eliminate your pain and allow you to work back to sports and exercise.
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Immediately After The Injury
Within the first 48 to 72 hours, its important to stop any activity and rest your knee. Dont push it and try to keep going on it. This is key to allow the swelling to go down, reduce any internal bleeding, and lower the pain. You should elevate your knee, avoid applying heat, massaging it, or drinking alcohol which can increase bleeding and swelling.
If your swelling and pain go down after this initial treatment, you may just want to monitor it for recovery. If the pain still hasnt improved after 48 to 72 hours, you should seek medical help. If you continue to use the joint after it is injured, you can actually cause further damage which will only lengthen your recovery time.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
The anterior cruciate ligament runs diagonally down the front of the knee, providing critical stability to the joint. Injuries to the ACL can be serious and require surgery.
ACL injuries are graded on a scale from one to three. A grade 1 sprain is a mild injury to the ACL, while a grade 3 refers to a complete tear.
Athletes who participate in contact sports such as football or soccer often injure their ACLs. However, contact sports are not the only cause of this injury.
Improperly landing from a jump or quickly changing the direction of motion can lead to a tear in the ACL.
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Can You Rest Too Much
You might think that it’s impossible to take too much time off your feet when you’re suffering from aching joints and swollen knees – but the truth is that there is such a thing as “too much rest”. It’s crucial that you start to get moving again after a few days of recovery, otherwise, the muscles in your legs could begin to weaken, and the joint may start to stiffen. As things continue to heal, you need to work the injured area of your body so that they don’t seize up.
If a muscle isn’t used at all, then it gradually begins to lose strength, meaning that you’re more likely to fall victim to an injury all over again when you do get up and start moving. Unfortunately, many people avoid using their limbs properly following an injury because they’re nervous about suffering from too much pain or discomfort. While it’s important to listen to your body during recovery and stop when you notice something wrong – it’s also crucial to get up and moving so you can boost your recovery.
Prevention Of Knee Sprains
One way to shorten the knee sprain healing time is to prevent sprains in the first place. While they are not completely avoidable, you can try the following tips to reduce your risk:
- Try to eat a healthy diet to improve muscle strength.
- Keep your weight in a health range to reduce strain on the knees.
- Avoid your favorite exercises, sports, or workouts when you are tired.
- Use good fitting shoes that have good support.
- Always stretch before exercise, sports, or heavy activity.
- Do warm up repetitions to warm your muscles and prepare them for exercise.
- Always run on even surfaces in well-lit areas.
- Use protection equipment when playing sports. Use knee pads and sports tape.
- Warm up your muscles before you work out.
- See a doctor before you begin a sports or exercise program.
- Safety proof your home .
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