Knee Injury Treatments
Treatment differs from case to case depending on the type of injury you have and your activity level. Treating a soft tissue (ligament, tendon, cartilage, meniscus) with rest, Cold Compression, Ultrasound Therapy, and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy will speed healing and improve the function of the knee so you can return to your normal activities. Once your knee has improved and activities can be resumed, it is recommended that you build muscle strength around the knee under the guidance of a physical therapist to prevent re-injury.
Using these therapies after surgery will control pain and swelling, reduce tissue damage, speed healing and treat the scar tissue resulting from the healing process. You will have a healthier knee with a greater range of motion than if your recontructed ACL was left untreated.
Cold Compression Therapy
Symptoms of pain and swelling are shared with both chronic and acute injuries. In either case, cold compression is recommended to help control inflammation, swelling and pain. Cold compression therapy is a treatment process that should be administered immediately following an injury or flare-up and continued for 48-72 hours.
Using Cold Compression immediately following a knee injury reduces pain and swelling and reduces the amount of damage to the tissue that occurs with soft tissue injuries.
Rest, Cold, Compression, Elevation (RCCE)
Rest the knee and limit your activity; you may want to use a walking aid to prevent immediate weight bearing on the joint if it is severely damaged or painful.
Applying Cold to your knee 2-3 times per day, for 15 - 20 minutes at a time, will help reduce swelling and pain. Our Freezie Wrap gel packs are charge in the fridge instead of the freezer. This is a better option than frozen peas, ice, or a gel pack chilled in the freezer as these methods reach temperatures so low they can cause an 'ice burn'. or cryoburn on your skin. Freezie Wrap gel packs have a patented design that allows them to be chilled in the fridge and the cold capcity to remain cold for a longer period of time than gel packs out of the freezer. They are the safest and most effective option for applying cold to your knee.
Compress the knee if possible by adding light pressure to minimize swelling. Be sure the compress is snug, but not too tight as it could cause numbness, tingling or more pain.
Elevate the knee above chest level to relieve the pressure and allow any fluid to drain from the injured area. A gentle massage around the knee area or small flexing and extending movements will help by increasing blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients, and will prevent stiffness.
The Knee Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way following an injury and after any further re-injury, which is common due to the instability of the knee.
Cold Compression Therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the damaged area. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the damaged tissue and cells begin to break-down. The deep cold provided by the Knee Freezie Wrap® slows cell function thereby reducing cellular break-down. Furthermore, because the cold wrap serves to numb the nerves, it also reduces pain! The Knee Freezie Wrap® uses a deep cold gel pack with a medical-grade neoprene compression cover to keep the cold pack off your skin preventing cryoburn and to keep the cold in the area that you need it.
Ultrasound Therapy increases tissue elasticity while promoting the flow of blood (filled with vital oxygen and nutrients) to your injured knee. This cleans the injured area by getting rid of damaged tissue and reducing the inflammation surrounding the tendons, ligaments, and menisci and opening up the blood vessels to begin healing.
During the healing process, scar tissue builds on the ligament and can attach the surrounding tissue in the joint, limiting the flexibility in your knee. Fortunately, you can treat your knee tissue with therapeutic ultrasound to soften scar tissue and improve your range of motion.
Not only does ultrasound aid in the duration of healing, but it helps to prevent long term complications. Pain, scar tissue, lack of mobility and arthritis are some of the more common long term complications from a knee injury. By treating your joint with ultrasound, scar tissue is softened reducing the risk of chronic problems in the future.
For those who suffer from long term complications of existing knee injuries, ultrasound can help. Ultrasound therapy can help to break up scar and fibrous tissue in the affected area.
Ultrasound can also be used to administer therapeutic medicines into the body. This is a process known as phonophoresis. Ultrasound with phonophoresis is rapidly becoming more popular than ultrasound therapy alone.
Phonophoresis can be received using a MendMeShop Ultrasound Therapy System. The treatment is safe, easy, painless, and generally requires between 5 - 10 minutes. It is based on a form of deep tissue therapy, which is generated through high frequency sound waves (that we can not hear). These waves send vibrations deep into your body and slightly increase the temperature of your soft tissue cells. The waves are delivered through a hand held transducer and conductive gel that are used together in a slow, circular motion on your skin over the injured area.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy is useful to reduce chronic knee pain, to warm up tissue prior to activity, to relax tense muscles, and ultimately, to speed tissue healing.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy, or BFST, increases blood flow to your injured and painful knee. This abundant blood flow transports vital nutrients to injured cells to promote your body's natural healing process. In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and able to heal faster.
After the inflammation and swelling in your knee is gone you can begin to treat your injury with BFST. Our Knee Inferno Wrap™ provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
Knee surgery may be inevitable for some conditions, such as locked knee and when the blood supply to the joint is compromised. However, in many cases it is optional and the decision to undergo surgery or use non-surgical methods depends on the injury, desired activity level, risk of future injury and the patient's motivation to work through rehabilitation.
Arthroscopic surgery is used to improve symptoms of a variety of knee injuries and diseases. With small incisions, surgeons are able to reconstruct torn ligaments, remove loose material within the joint, and repair damaged cartilage.
Although arthroscopic surgery has been a popular treatment for osteoarthritis, a recent study completed at the University of Western Ontario and the Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada challenges its effectiveness. In the study, published in the September 11, 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers treated 2 groups of osteoarthritis patients with medication and physical therapy, but only 1 of the groups with arthroscopic surgery as well. Patients of each group reported comparable improvements in pain, movement and function suggesting surgery had no additional therapeutic value over non-surgical methods. Although arthroscopic surgery may be useful for patients with ACL or meniscal tears, researchers recommend osteoarthritis patients pursue conservative treatment methods before considering surgery.
Knee replacement surgery may be necessary if non-surgical methods fail to improve severe symptoms of arthritis or other degenerative conditions. The surgeon removes any damaged cartilage and bone and replaces it with a metal or plastic prosthesis. Partial replacement is used if some healthy cartilage still remains and only the damaged portion needs to be replaced. A total knee replacement often has better long-term results but does take longer to heal.
Corticosteroid, or cortisone, injections ease the pain of osteoarthritis by lubricating the joints where cartilage has been reduced. Injections can minimize the symptoms of a flare up for a few months at a time, however, they are not effective for everyone. You should see results after the first injection to know whether it is an effective treatment for you. Some risks of cortisone injections include higher blood sugar levels, an increased risk of infection and potential weakening of tissue.
Hyaluronic acid injections have also been known to control inflammation for several months at a time. The hyaluronic acid, naturally found in joints, is injected through a series of shots to provide lubrication and allow movement without pain.
Physical therapy is prescribed to patients recovering from surgery or needing to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Physical therapy begins by re-establishing the knee's full range of motion.
Next, strength building exercises are incorporated to increase stability and improve balance. Finally, the patient is given ongoing exercises to strengthen muscles and prevent future injury.
Increasing the strength in your hamstring and quadriceps muscles improves the stability of your knee joint and helps to relieve some of the force your knees carry everyday.
Medication and Supplements
Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring substances found in cartilage. For injuries and disease causing damage to cartilage, such as osteoarthritis and patellar chondromalacia, supplements help to slow the degenerative process and ease some pain.
Topical pain medications may also help you to relieve pain and stiffness due to cartilage deterioration and improve movement in the joint. The topical cream celadrin is applied on the joint and can improve knee function. For pain relief, ask your pharmacist about capsicum or patches containing lidocaine.
Anti-inflammatory and pain medications are used to manage swelling and tenderness at the onset of an injury or flare up. Unfortunately, taking these medications does not treat the source of your pain. Seek a doctor's opinion for the proper dosage and duration for your condition and to discuss side effects.
It is recommended that you see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your knee pain before beginning any treatment program. With so many possible sources of knee pain, it is important for you to have an understanding of the cause of your pain to ensure you are treating it appropriately.