There is, unfortunately, no quick cure for a knee injury. However, most providers agree that it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible after the injury occurs.
One technique often suggested by providers after a knee injury is referred to as R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest your knee by staying off of it or using crutches to relieve pressure on the knee as you walk. Apply ice to control any swelling and use a compressive elastic bandage applied snugly. Keep in mind that the bandage should be loose enough not to cause pain. And finally, keep your knee elevated.
Another common approach to treating a knee injury is physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you regain function in your knee as quickly as possible through a combination of manual techniques such as exercise, massage and mobilization, and training to help you use your knee for maximal function. Physical therapists emphasize the need to get the affected area moving as quickly as is safe after an injury. The longer a joint remains immobile, the greater the possibility that excess swelling may lead to decreased range of motion.
A physical therapist can design a program that has two main goals. First, the maximum protection phase involves a series of exercises designed to help improve knee motion. Exercises in this phase might include activities like water walking, swimming, leg presses, or mini-squats.
The second goal is to restore strength to your knee, with a gradual return to normal activity levels. This is accomplished using closely monitored exercises that simulate normal knee stresses.
Treatment may also include the use of a knee brace or cast to support and stabilize your knee joint while the injury heals.
Unfortunately, not every knee injury responds to non-surgical approaches. The good news is that advances in medical technology have made surgery a more practical option for many patients.
One example of a surgical approach is arthroscopic surgery. During this procedure, the provider makes small incisions near the knee, and inserts a tiny camera called an arthroscope. This allows the surgeon to view the damaged area and to repair damaged structures. Arthroscopic surgery is used most often in cases where repair is needed for ruptured ligaments or torn menisci, or when the patient is experiencing some level of disability because of the injury.
Arthroscopic surgery is usually fairly quick, involves a minimum level of discomfort, and has a good success rate.