Knee Injury and Meniscus Tears (cont.)

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What exercises are recommended, and what exercises should be avoided during rehabilitation for a knee injury?

During physical therapy for rehabilitation of a knee injury, the patient will be given specific exercises by the physical therapist in order to strengthen and stabilize the knee joint. These exercises include strengthening the front of the thigh (quadriceps), back of the thigh (hamstrings), calf, and hip. Consult your doctor and your physical therapist before starting any exercise program. Your physical therapist should insure that you are doing the exercises properly before doing them on your own.

If you have any pain or discomfort while doing prescribed exercises, see your doctor or physical therapist.

Some exercises that your physical therapist may recommend include the following:

  • Quad sets
  • Straight leg raises
    • Straight-leg raise to the front
    • Straight-leg raise to the back
  • Hamstring curls
  • Heel raises
  • Heel dig bridging
  • Shallow standing knee bends

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has an exercise guide that includes directions and pictures. Consult your doctor or physical therapist before trying any of these exercises on your own.

Some exercises to avoid following knee injury include the following:

  • Full-arc knee extensions
  • Lunges
  • Deep squats
  • Hurdler's stretches

These exercises can further stress already damaged knee joints.

What is the recovery time for a knee injury?

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The recovery time for a knee injury depends on the type and severity of the injury. If the injury is significant enough to require surgery and/or physical therapy, the recovery time will be longer.

Simple strains or sprains can last for one to two weeks. More extensive injuries requiring arthroscopic surgery may take one to three months to heal.

Major traumatic injuries to the knee may take up to a year to heal.

Following the doctor's instructions for rest, immobilization, staying off your feet, and avoiding exercise that aggravates the injuries will help speed recovery.

Physical therapy can also speed recovery time. It is important to follow directions of your physical therapist to insure you are doing the exercises correctly and attaining the best results.

Chronic knee injuries that do not require surgery may flare up from time to time. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections are used to provide temporary relief.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/6/2013

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