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Acute injuries arise from a single incident, eg/ a fall or a tackle (Note: there are frequently biomechanical factors that predispose one to an acute injury eg/ habitual poor hip motion increases one’s risk of a knee injury).
Acute injuries will have a sudden onset involving a degree of swelling and with time the pain intensity decreases. In contrast, chronic knee injuries arise from years of minor injuries that come about from poor movement patterns and poor posture placing uneven or accelerated wear and tear on the body.
This article will focus on the basic ideas of acute knee injury; covering common injuries, prevention and management from an Osteopathic perspective.
The knee joint is a complicated and commonly injured joint. The knee consists of number of articulating surfaces, each being supported by a combination of muscles and ligaments.
Acute sharp knee pain can occur in a variety of movements for example:falling down stairs, awkwardly changing direction in a game of netball or being tackled in a contact sport. Most acute knee injuries involve soft tissue damage implicating a combination of the following structures:
Fractures and dislocations can also happen to the knee but these are rare and usually require a more significant force.
Of course, injuries are never fun and are best to be avoided altogether. The following factors can be managed to decrease the risk of acute knee injury:
1. Ankle and hip mobility and strength.
The actions of the ankle and hip are very important for knee health due to the flow on effects up and down the kinetic chain.
2. Maintaining a healthy weight.
Less body weight generally means less challenging forces for the knee to withstand. However, keep in mind that lighter is not always better, more (potentially heavy) muscle mass in the area can help to stabilise the knee joint (or any other joint for that matter) reducing the likelihood of injury. Which leads me to my next point.
3. Structurally balanced muscular development around the knee joint.
Ensuring that you develop the muscles immediately surrounding the knee in a balanced manner can ensure the forces through the knee are distributed broadly rather than overloading one particular area or direction. For instance making sure that the muscles at the back of the joint (hamstrings) are well developed relative to the front of the joint (quadriceps), or that the muscles controlling the inside of your knee (medial quadriceps) are well developed relative to the muscles on the outside of your knee (lateral quadriceps). In the same vein, sometimes it’s preferable to redistribute those forces away from the knee joint altogether, which brings us back to point number 1, in particular the development and function of the glutes can have a substantial effect on the health of the knees.
Management for acute knee pain usually includes:
Rest, ice, compression, elevation, pain management, and appropriate referral. Seeking professional advice is extremely important as an Osteopath will be able provide you with the appropriate management.
Management of knee pain will largely be patient and injury dependent. Following the initial management, rehabilitation exercises and hands on treatment will be an important component of the recovery journey.
During a consultation with an Osteopath we will:
When the body goes into a healing mode we need to fuel the process with a nutritious diet and keep the brain in a constructive mindset.
Managing acute injuries in an intelligent and timely manner is important for avoiding reinjury and preventing the development of a chronic issue. Getting advice from an Osteopath will help the recovery process by giving you an understanding of your injury and creating a realistic management plan that aligns with your goals. In addition to developing a rehabilitation plan, your practitioner can help reduce pain and swelling with hands on treatment and, if necessary, send you for scans or guide you to another appropriate medical professional.
Injury prevention would be optimal, which is why we provide classes at The A Life to develop strength and mobility, “prehab” can help to avoid many injuries altogether. However if you do find yourself injured, being smart with your initial and long term management can make a world of difference to both physical and mental health following the injury.
ClinicalKey. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.clinicalkey.com.au/#!/content/clinical_overview/67-s2.0-9e7111a2-15f2-41a8-af0c-328ad5da488a
Gage, B., McIlvain, N., Collins, C., Fields, S., & Comstock, R. (2019). Epidemiology of 6.6 million knee injuries presenting to United States emergency departments from 1999 through 2008. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506941
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