Are you experiencing knee pain which started after:
- Running and twisting on the knee
- Jumping and landing in an awkward position
- Suffering a direct blow to the knee (e.g. falling on your knee)
You may be suffering from a knee ligament injury, also known as a ‘torn ligament’ or a ‘sprained knee’.
What to look out for…
Knee ligaments are fibrous structures which connects one bone to another bone. They help provide stability and control in our knees during day to day activities. The most commonly injured ligaments in the knees are the ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL (which stand for anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial cruciate ligament and lateral cruciate ligament respectively).
If one of your ligaments is injured, you will experience some of the following:
- Pain in the knee
- Swelling and redness
- Difficulty bending and straightening the knee
- Difficulty standing, walking and running
What should you do if you think you have a knee ligament injury
- Confirm your diagnosis
If you are experiencing any of the knee symptoms mentioned above, you should see your physiotherapist. They can help you get a proper diagnosis and rule out other serious knee injuries such as fractures, dislocations and meniscal injuries. They will take a detailed history and do a physical examination to figure out what structures in the knee are injured and how badly injured it might be. They may send you to get further imaging such as an X-Ray or an MRI to assist in the diagnosis process. Getting a proper diagnosis is essential to getting the right treatment and recovering as quickly as possible.
- Control the pain and swelling
If a ligament sprain is properly diagnosed, it is recommended to follow the RICE principle especially during the first 24 to 48 hours of the injury happening.
- R – REST the injured knee, avoid excessive walking and standing, use crutches if needed
- I – ICE the injured knee for up to 20 minutes
- C – COMPRESS using a suitable garment around the knee to control the swelling
- E – ELEVATE your legs by lying down and putting pillows under your legs for at least 20 minutes
Your doctor may also recommend medication to control pain and inflammation.
- Start a rehabilitation program
No matter how mild or severe the ligament sprain is, it is important to start a rehabilitation program to restore knee stability, strength and endurance. The better you are able to comply with your rehabilitation program, the better and quicker your recovery will be.
The length of a rehab program will depend on the severity of the injury and the specific goals of each person. Recovery time frames can vary from 6 weeks for minor sprains up to 1 year for more serious sprains which require surgery.
Benefits of completing a good rehabilitation program include:
- Regain full movement of the knee
- Regain pain free movement
- Prevent further injuries to knee
- Prevent further injuries to other body parts
- Improve sporting performance
There are a lot of knee exercises on the internet and social media, but picking the correct exercises and understanding how often to do them is essential to recovering quickly. For that reason, we suggest you see a physiotherapist.
To give you an example, here are a few exercises that can be done as part of the program.
- Mini squats
- Balancing on one leg
A physiotherapist and exercise physiologist will be able to help design a comprehensive and individualised rehabilitation program for you.
The need for surgery will depend on which ligament is injured, how severely it is injured, and the person’s functional goals. For example, if you are an athlete with a full ACL tear and aim to return to playing sports, you will need to undergo an ACL reconstruction surgery followed by a rehabilitation program. However, if you are an older, less active person without symptoms of the knee giving way, non-surgical management such as a comprehensive rehabilitation program will be sufficient to recover.
Book an appointment
If you are concerned about any knee pain that you might be experiencing, book in for an assessment, and let us put your mind at est. You can contact us on 02 8607 4000 or request a call by completing this form.
This blog was written by Brendon Arizala – Physiotherapist at Precision Physio St Marys If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Brendon, you can contact him through the Precision Physio St Marys clinic: 02 9623 2220 or book in online.