So, you’ve injured your knee and maybe seen your doctor, who has helped you in the initial stages of your recovery. Whether you have undergone surgery or not, rehabilitation is a crucial step in the repair of your knee ligament injury. It can help ensure a full recovery whilst protecting you from potential knock-on effects, such as the early onset of osteoarthritis.
This article offers some top tips on rehabilitation for knee ligament injuries, helping you return to your previous level of physical activity as quickly and safely as possible.
Recovering From a Knee Ligament Injury
First 48 – 72 hours
During the first 48 to 72 hours following your injury, follow the RICE regime: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
- Try to keep your weight off the affected area. Crutches may be recommended, or a stick in the opposite hand, to reduce the knee load by half.
- Apply ice as soon as possible after the injury and leave on for 10 – 30 minutes. Use a bag of ice cubes or frozen peas wrapped in a towel. This should help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Avoid heat, e.g. hot baths and heat packs, as these can cause further inflammation.
- Use a tubular compression bandage to reduce swelling and support the injured knee ligament. This should be neither too tight nor too loose – you should feel a mild pressure. Your pharmacist will be able to help you choose the correct size.
- Keep the foot raised when you are sitting, e.g. by placing it on a chair in front of you. Alternatively, you may find it easier to lie on the sofa and rest your foot on some cushions.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks, as these can slow healing and increase the internal bleeding and swelling.
- Don’t be tempted to massage the area, as this too can increase internal bleeding and swelling.
- Doctors usually recommend taking two Paracetamol tablets, four times a day to control the pain. For severe pain, codeine may be prescribed instead but should only be used for a very limited time to prevent addiction. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen painkillers may also help, but please note that NICE does not recommend their use in the first 48 hours after injury. If you are at all uncertain as to which painkillers would be most suitable for you and your injury, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
After 72 hours
- It’s important not to keep the knee completely immobile for too long, so as soon as you can, do some gentle exercises to get the knee joint moving again. Non-weight bearing flexion and extension, with your foot sliding along a support, will help to maintain range of motion. Flexion and extension in a pool is also recommended, as the water compression will help to control swelling as its resistance supports the weight of your leg. A Physiotherapist will be able to help you decide which exercises would be most suitable for your particular injury.
- Avoid running, jumping and other physical activities that are likely to cause further damage.
- Once you have recovered, you should continue exercising to stretch and strengthen the muscles supporting the knee joint.
- Wear a good knee brace to control the normal knee joint alignment while the damaged ligament heals, and to prevent further injury later on.
Knee braces can assist with the rehabilitation of knee ligament injuries, offering protection and minimising the risk of further damage. If you think you could benefit, Technology in Motion can advise you on the best solution to suit your requirements, lifestyle and budget.
Call 0330 100 1800 to arrange an appointment, or browse our website for more information on our orthotic clinics and the service that we provide.