A guideline on management of acute vs chronic knee pain

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Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. However, your knee may get sore after a short run, sudden jump, simple fall, etc. In this article, we are going to show you the difference between acute and chronic knee pain and what steps you could take for a quicker recovery.

1- Acute knee pain: 

If you had an injury such as a twisted knee, a bad fall, football tackle, or direct kick to your knee. And you can't bear weight on your knee, your knee is swollen. Depends on the type and area of injury your recovery could take between 6 to 18 weeks, and In some cases even longer.

Besides that, the first 24-48 hours after sustaining a soft tissue injury are crucial in ensuring the best outcome for healing.  As a general rule, management for most acute injuries is as simple as remembering two simple acronyms – POLICE and HARM protocol to follow.

In some cases, if weight bearing is unbearable and you can't get through the full range of movements (you must sick medical help). See your physical therapist as soon as possible for an assessment and quicker recovery.

Common Sign & Symptoms:

  • - Have severe knee pain that is associated with a knee injury (pain 6/7 out of 10)
  • - Swollen knee with a lack of range of movement
  • - Bruised and sore to touch
  • - Can't bear weight and unable to walk on it
  • - Feel unstable and gives out  (weakness and instability)
  • - Inability to fully extend or flexed your knee
  • Phase one rehab protocol

In relation to exercise rehabilitation a study by Shields et al, state that rehabilitation regimens that use closed chain weight-bearing (WB) exercises are preferred because they better mimic functional movements  (Read more).

We have prepared 3 closed chain weight-bearing exercises to activate your gluteal muscle as the 1st phase of your knee rehabilitation (Knee Injury Rehabilitation, Gluteus Muscle Activation).

  • 2- Chronic Knee pain: 

Chronic knee pain can happen for a number of reasons however, in comparison to an acute knee injury, you may not remember any recent injury or direct incident in regard to your knee pain. If you go for a short run you might feel the pain, or if you back playing sports it might flairs up and get swollen.

As soon as you rest it the pain might get settled slowly and you could forget about it. In the majority of cases, my patients would totally rest the knee and avoid anything that challenges their knee such as running, hiking, gym workout, etc. Unfortunately, resting the knee and avoiding daily activities is not the best long term solution.

Why your knee get sore without any injury?

We have listed a couple of reason that could link to your knee pain.

  • Previous knee injury:
  • You may have a previous injury but you have never checked it out with your physio nor gone through a completed ( prescribed rehabilitation exercises). You have rested and pain has gone away and you forget about it.
  • Doing too much too fast:
  • Many of my patients start a new activity such as long-distance running, hiking, HIT classes, or coach to 5k without building any distance and developed strength gradually. They also not seeking help from a strength coach or running coach regarding their training plan or exercise technique.
  • Complete Rest:
  • As we highlighted earlier, after an episode of knee pain you rest your knee and avoid any activity for several weeks such as the squat, running, or hiking, etc. (your knee become weaker and more conditioned to get sore whenever you increase your daily activity).
  • Lack of strength work:
  • As we age we lose our muscle mass. Losing muscle mass does affect your strength over time. A common thing that I see with most of my patients is the lack of strength work as part of their gym workout throughout the year. Try to get some help from a strength coach and build strength in the lower body.
  • Using knee braces in the long term:
  • Knee braces could be helpful in acute cases to reduce the swelling and give you a bit of support, however, if you use it in the long term your knee can be get used to it and weakened.

 Pain is not always equal damage:

“The amount of pain you experience does not necessarily relate to the amount of tissue damage you have sustained” Dr. Lorimer Moseley, PT, Ph.D.

This idea is important to always keep in the back of our minds. All too often we believe (often because healthcare providers unknowingly misinform us) that pain and injury are the same (Read more).

 Who to go to for medical help?

1- Registered Physio: In the case of a knee injury your 1st choice of going to would be a physical/physiotherapist. Why? Their scoop of practice includes any musculoskeletal or sports injury diagnosis, management, rehabilitation and also injury prevention. They could assess your knee and start your rehabilitation and treatment right away. However, in severe injury cases, you may ask to provide an X-ray or MRI scan for diagnosis purposes.

Our Approach

Dublin Sports Injury Clinic is a physical therapy clinic based in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin2. We have a holistic approach to our assessment and treatment. The initial assessment helps us to explore the cause of your injury and help you to get pain free shortly and stop any further injuries. We will design a customized training program for you to start with, and we will coach you and monitor your progress closely. We will prescribe relative rest or modified activities as required. Depending on the individual requirement, we apply manual therapy accompanied by stretching to restore tissue elasticity and reduce the strain in the muscle-tendon unit with joint motion.

Next step 

Want to get in touch with our team of the therapist or you are looking for some advice? Simply fill in your details below & we get in touch with you shortly.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. You can contact us if you would like to book an appointment or get some advice from our therapist.


One Response

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