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 healing and get your back on the field.

Ligament Sprains
Ligaments are bands of strong connective tissue that stabilise the knee joint. Overstretching can cause the ligament fibre to tear and bleed into the surrounding tissues, causing pain, swelling and instability. Severe tears may require a 'knee reconstruction.'

Cartilage Tears
Cartilage tissue also stabilises and protects the knee joint. Downward pressure from twisting and turning during weight-bearing exercise may tear the cartilage causing pain, swelling and locking of the knee joint.

Tendon Strains
Tendons are cord-like bands that join muscle to bone. Patella tendinitis or 'jumper's knee' is an overuse injury commonly caused by repeated jumping and landing.

Patello-Femoral Syndrome
Excessive stress to the surface of the patello-femoral (kneecap) joint results in knee pain. It may have a number of causes and needs to be assessed by your physiotherapist.

Some injuries are acute, resulting from sudden trauma like a fall or collision. Others develop over time, caused by a range of factors including structural problems, incorrect training methods, poor equipment or problems with technique.

Many injuries can be treated without surgery by physiotherapy treatment and supervised rehabilitation. If damage is severe, surgery may be needed. Physiotherapists work closely with medical practitioners, sports physicians and orthopaedic surgeons to provide effective care and assist recovery.

A knee injury can put you out of action Whether you play sport socially or professionally, a knee injury can put you out of action.
(Photo: Joe Armao, Courtesy The Age).

Side view of knee

What Should I Do After a Knee Injury?

In the first 24 hours after injury, use the R.I.C.E. method:
Rest: Take it easy, but keep moving within your limit of pain.

Ice: Apply ice for 15 minutes every 2 hours. This helps control pain and bleeding.

Compression: Firmly bandage the knee. This reduces swelling.

Elevation: Have your knee higher than the level of your heart. This reduces swelling and bleeding.

Then visit your physiotherapist for a treatment plan.
Your chances of a full recovery will also be helped if you avoid the H.A.R.M. factors in the first 48 hours.

Heat: Increases swelling and bleeding.

Alcohol: Increases swelling and bleeding.

Running or Exercise: Aggravates the injury.

Massage: Increases swelling and bleeding.
What should I do after a knee injury?
(Illustrations courtesy Dr. Barry Oakes, Department of Anatomy, Monash University)
Prevent Knee Injuries

bullet Warm up before you exercise. Warm down when you finish.
bullet Build up your exercise program gradually. Steadily increase the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise.
bullet Vary activities to achieve a good balance of muscle development.
bullet Maintain good general fitness and lower body strength.
bullet Be on your toes - try and pivot on the balls of your feet when you turn.
bullet Skiers - check your binding settings. Make sure you can self-release.
How Can Physiotherapists Help?

Depending upon the cause and type of injury, your physiotherapist may use a variety of treatments:
bullet ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, interferential therapy, biofeedback and laser treatment
bullet mobility and strengthening exercises
bullet soft tissue massage and passive mobilisation
bullet taping and bracing
bullet developing a rehabilitation plan

Finding a Physiotherapist

A doctor's referral is not required to see a physiotherapist in private practice. Physiotherapists in private practice are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Physiotherapists'. Physiotherapists also work in public hospitals and community health centres. A proportion of treatment costs is rebatable under all higher table health insurance schemes.
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Move well. Stay well.
By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association