A brief guide to managing an acute knee injury

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The winter sporting season is well upon us, and with this comes inevitable injury. Knees are commonly injured in winter sport, particularly innetball and rugby. Managing them well from the time of injury makes a significant difference in the recovery timeframes.
At netball onSaturday I landed poorly and my right knee twisted. The initial pain of injury is always incredibly severe, often disproportionate to the damage sustained.
The brain receives messages from the injured site and goes into protection mode, making it so painful you won’t be able to continue and cause further damage.
Remembering this in the first few moments made the pain more bearable, knowing my brain and body were working just as they should be.
Pain continues to limit function over the next few days, and you can often expect it to get a little worse before it gets better. The body gets straight into healing with the important early inflammatory phase. As expected, my swelling increased over the first night and I experienced more pain and decreased range of movement in the first couple of days.
Over the first 24-48 hours, apply the principles of Rice: rest, ice, compression and elevation.
With a knee injury, crutches can be essential to enable sufficient rest. Aim to apply ice for about 15 minutes every two hours. A snug crepe bandage or tubigrip is useful for compression.
Restoring and maintaining range of movement inknees is very important, so I simply bent and straightened my knee ten times within the limits of my pain every couple of hours. This helped my knee feel less stiff and painful, and helped me to walk better.
Early assessment and treatment of knee injuries is important to reduce your rehabilitation timeframe. There are a range of knee injuries; some could mean you are back playing sport in a couple of weeks if managed well.
Most will not be career ending (as I worried over initially — forgetting that I’m not a professional netballer!). You can visit a physiotherapist directly who can organise your ACC paperwork as well as diagnose the injured structure(s) and start the important early treatment.
Copy: Megan Longman, physiotherapist, Alexandra Physiotherapy Centre.