Knee Pain – Early Diagnosis, Better Prognosis
Knee pain is by far one of the leading injuries athletes have the risk of enduring while playing sport. There is a more prominent risk in contact sports but knee injuries can equally plague solo athletes such as runners, tennis players or surfers. Rehabilitation is often a long and tedious road, so getting an early diagnosis can save you months of frustration and money!
Seeking medical advice from a physiotherapist, sports doctor or orthopaedic surgeon sooner rather than later will set you up for a far better outcome. If it is not an acute knee injury you are suffering from but a more persistent problem, then seeking professional advice within the first two weeks of onset will also set you up for a better prognosis. An experienced physiotherapist will be able to make a clinical diagnosis to determine the extent of your injury and the structures that may be involved to help you to better understand the cause of your knee pain and plan for your recovery. This will also help to prevent any associated dysfunction up or down the chain, in the hip or lower leg/ ankle, which may occur from moving differently due to your pain.
Severe traumatic knee injuries will most often involve the ligaments, cartilage or bone surrounding the knee and may require an x-ray or MRI to confirm the clinical diagnosis. In these cases a review with an orthopaedic surgeon is recommended as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome.
Rehabilitation is an integral part of recovering from a traumatic knee injury. Initial treatment and rehabilitation should start with the basics including restoring full range of motion, resolving/ minimising swelling, ensuring optimal knee alignment and neuromuscular control in the muscles surrounding the knee and how to use the buttock muscles. Learning how to walk correctly may sound like an unusual goal but it is crucial to successfully rehabilitate the knee. Prescribing exercises, which are too advanced in the beginning can cause more harm than good. An ideal rehabilitation program will start slow and gradually progress to include exercises, which are more advanced and sport/ functionally specific. The long-term benefits of starting slowly are worth the time and effort.
Having a positive frame of mind and setting small, realistic goals for yourself along the way will make your rehabilitation easier to endure. Believe in your body to recovery and it will.