Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitation used to increase functionality of one’s body. A physical therapist is educated in these matters and is trained to help patients return to their maximum level of quality of life. One of the most commonly injured part of the body is the knee, which accounts for more than 50% of sports injuries. Other common injuries that physical therapists often tend to are
- Tennis elbow
- Achilles tendinitis
- Shoulder impingement
All of these injuries occur mostly in athletes due to the incredible repetition and intensity demanded in the world of sports. This post however, will focus on knee injuries and more specifically, their causes and how physical therapy helps athletes return to their normal selves.
Knee injuries usually occur when the kneecap (patella) becomes misaligned. This misalignment results in pain as the knee bends and flexes repeatedly. The cartilage is irritated as this motion is repeated sometimes causing serious injury. Often, this interaction with the cartilage will cause a pool of fluid to occur to the inner side of the knee, resulting in swelling and more pain. Although this injury is very common in long-distance runners, it can plague athletes of almost any sport.
To remedy this common type of knee injury, one of the most crucial ingredients is rest. As one could imagine after describing the nature of the injury, it is important not to overwork an injured knee as the problem is easily exacerbated. Aside from rest, this injury is treated through the quadriceps, which is a muscle group located in the thigh. Through careful massaging and stretching, the muscle fibers loosen to relax the forces acting on the kneecap. In order to alleviate the contraction that has occurred, the kneecap must return and realign with the center of the knee. This process is slow and takes a minimum of a couple days, depending on the severity.
One of the common themes of this blog will be general knowledge of how to treat an injury that has just occurred. The four key steps to keep in mind are to rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE). Resting protects the injury from becoming worse. Using an ice pack immediately after an injury will reduce swelling. One important oversight is that an injury should only be iced for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time and less than five times a day. Too much coldness will stunt the body’s ability to heal the injury. Wrapping the injury in a bandage will also help reduce swelling. However, wrapping the bandage too tightly could cause swelling at the end of the bandage. In addition, elevating the injury will also reduce swelling. A common rule of thumb is to keep the injury above the heart when laying down.
Using these simple guidelines is an easy way to reduce the recovery time of an injury. Be sure to keep checking back for more information regarding physical therapy.