Knee Injury

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What are home remedies for a knee injury?

Treatment for a knee injury depends on the part of the knee that is damaged and the extent of the damage.

Some injuries such as simple strains or sprains are treated with home remedies such as RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Taking time off from sports and exercise may be enough for minor injuries to heal. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) may help treat the pain and inflammation from these minor injuries. Chronic knee injuries may respond to heat therapy.

What is the medical treatment for a knee injury?

More serious knee injuries require medical care.

Knee immobilization or splinting keeps the knee from moving and decreases the chance of further injury. Immobilizing the knee can help stabilize an injured knee that may not be stable due to torn ligaments. It also keeps the knee from moving to assist in resting the knee.

Chronic knee injuries involving inflammation and bursitis may be treated with anti-inflammatories. Injections of cortisone (a steroid with powerful anti-inflammatory effects) may be helpful in these situations.

More extensive injuries involving torn ligaments, instability of the knee joint, swelling, decreased range of motion, or fractures will require an orthopedic surgeon consultation. In the initial stages of these more extensive injuries, RICE therapy can still be used. Staying off the leg by using crutches or a wheelchair may be advised.

Surgery may be indicated for tears of the ligaments or extensive damage to the menisci. Surgery may also be needed for fractures or dislocations of the knee. Some acute injuries such as those with high-force impact, or multiple parts of the knee damaged, may require emergency surgery.

Most knee surgery can be done by arthroscopy, a procedure in which a camera is used and small punctures are made in the knee to insert instruments. Repairs can be done inside the knee without having the open the knee with a large incision. Most arthroscopic surgeries do not need to be done immediately after an acute injury. Some are delayed to allow for decreased inflammation.

After surgery, or if surgery is not an option, physical therapy can be used to strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding the knee. Physical therapy can also allow for better movement mechanics of the leg and the knee to help prevent future injury.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/6/2016

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