What are the Best Tips for Knee Injury Recovery?

Dan Cavallari

Depending on the severity of the injury, knee injury recovery can take several weeks to months and can be a frustrating time. The most important tip concerning recovery is to remember that rest is the most important part of any rehabilitation program. The body needs time to heal, and rushing into too much use too quickly can either hinder progress or re-injure the knee. As with any other injury recovery, knee injury recovery should be guided by a professional physical therapist in the most severe cases, and a professional trainer in less severe cases. One should be sure to consult a professional before proceeding with any knee injury recovery plan.

A person wearing a knee brace.
A person wearing a knee brace.

Bruises and strains often don't need the attention of a professional, except in more serious cases. Milder injuries can be treated using the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest allows the body to heal naturally; ice keeps swelling down and helps prevent internal bleeding. Icing should be done immediately after the injury occurs; compression also helps keep swelling to a minimum, and elevation encourages blood flow throughout the leg, also helping prevent swelling. For minor injuries, knee injury recovery will include bending the joint slowly and easily only a few hours or one day after the injury occurs. This helps maintain mobility and keeps the joint flexible.

A person with a knee injury using an elastic bandage.
A person with a knee injury using an elastic bandage.

Injuries that require more attention than the simple RICE treatment are considered serious. Such injuries may include ligament tears, joint replacements, other types of surgeries, and bone breaks. Such injuries usually require the attention of a doctor, which means rehabilitation will be more prolonged and intense. Lateral movement should be restricted during recovery for such injuries, as the ligaments and muscles may not be fully prepared to support the body. A knee brace will more than likely be necessary, and one should seek a doctor's approval before choosing a brace.

Knee injuries are common in sports.
Knee injuries are common in sports.

Once knee injury recovery is underway and the injured person can put a light amount of weight on the knee, it is time to start exercising the leg. Remember that working the muscles surrounding the knee is just as important as bending the joint itself. Other leg muscles will help support the body both during and after recovery, and the best way to prevent re-injury and build a stronger knee joint is to build stronger muscles that support the leg. Light stretches should be done at first, and then the injured person can progress to more strenuous exercises.

Light stretches may help prevent re-injury to the knee.
Light stretches may help prevent re-injury to the knee.
It's important to rest after a knee injury.
It's important to rest after a knee injury.
Ice should be applied as soon as a knee injury occurs.
Ice should be applied as soon as a knee injury occurs.

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