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What is the treatment 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 RICE therapy
(rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Taking time off from sports and
exercise may be enough for minor injuries to heal.
anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) may
help treat the pain and inflammation from these minor injuries.
Knee immobilization or splinting keeps the knee from moving and decreases the
chance of further injury. It 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 arthroscopically, 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