Pain, swelling and stiffness are the common symptoms of any damage or injury to the knee. If care is not taken during the initial phases of injury, it may lead to joint damage that may end up destroying your knee.
Common causes of knee injury are:
- Fracture of femur (thigh bone), tibia and fibula (leg bones)
- Torn ligament (either anterior or posterior cruciate ligament)
- Rupture of blood vessels following a trauma that leads to accumulation of extra fluid or blood in the joint
- Dislocation of knee cap (patella)
- Patellar tendon tear
If the pain and swelling is rapid, then immediate diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment is advised. Initial diagnosis includes physical and joint examination followed by an X-ray.
Immediately following a knee injury and before being evaluated by a medical doctor, you should initiate the R.I.C.E. method of treatment:
Rest: Rest the knee, as more damage could result from putting pressure on the injury.
Ice: Ice packs applied to the injury will help diminish swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin.
Compression: Wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage or compression stocking can help to minimize the swelling and support your knee.
Elevation: Elevating the knee above heart level will also help reduce swelling and pain.
Acute or mild knee injury does not require knee surgery. It can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and it is necessary to drain out accumulated extra joint fluid with the use of a syringe or needle. If pain persists for a long time or appears at night or while at rest, it is important to visit a doctor to seek advice.
Conservative treatment may be recommended that includes taping, massage, mobilization techniques and stretching and strengthening exercises as well as exercises to improve your balance and agility.
In some cases, if pain is intolerable, doctors may recommend cortisone injection. It is a good practice to avoid the use of cortisone, as it weakens and softens your cartilage, thereby leading to arthritis of the knee. More severe cases are treated by surgery followed by a period of rehabilitation to strengthen the knee.