The knee is a major joint in our lower body and it is one that is continuously subjected to a lot of pressure by even our everyday activities, but particularly when we participate in sports and exercise. So, if you managed to sprain your knee during a soccer game, at the gym or from simply falling at an awkward angle while running, how are you supposed to know if it’s just something that will go away after a few days, or if it’s a serious injury that requires immediate attention?
It is extremely hard to tell on your own, but there are some signs which give you an indication when it’s time see a doctor and get that X-ray done. At times, the symptoms of a normal knee sprain and a serious tear are hard to distinguish, but more often than not, the following signs should be able to provide you with at least some direction.
Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to any injury, so if you have sprained your knee, it will swell up a bit, but the amount of swelling makes a huge difference.
In case your knee and the surrounding areas have swollen up like a liquid-filled balloon, it is most probably a serious injury that requires medical attention as soon as possible. More often than not, severe swelling occurs when the cartilage or the ligaments have been harshly bruised or even torn in worst case scenarios.
Apply pressure onto the area by wearing a knee sleeve brace, but make sure it’s a soft one and not too tight. Ice packs and hot water bags are never a bad idea in case of joint injuries, so do apply them at least three times a day. If the swelling doesn’t go down significantly within three days, or gets worse, immediate medical attention will be necessary to prevent more serious complications. Serious injuries can even result in amputation due to gangrene when they are left undiagnosed and untreated for long enough.
The patella is the scientific name for what we commonly know as the knee cap. It is quite easy to displace the patella unfortunately, but the good news is, this is one of those injuries that you can immediately tell is serious, since the deformity will be visually obvious.
A displaced Patella looks as if the knob of your knee has moved away from its original locationand therefore your knee will look deformed. If the displacement is only slight in nature, and you cannot really tell, just compare the position of the two knee caps side by side to know for sure.
While the signs are obvious, this is an emergency condition which will require an orthopedic doctor’s help to reset the patella manually. In some extreme situations, even surgical procedures might be necessary. Ignoring the displaced knee cap will result in extreme pain, severe swelling and possible impairment of the leg’s partial abilities on a permanent basis.
The Pop Sound and the Pain
This is not the kind of pop anyone ever wants to hear, but if you ever experience severe pain in your knee region, just after hearing the infamous “pop,” then you are in trouble.
It is either a joint dislocation, or a ligament strain/tear, neither of which is good news. Going to an orthopedic surgeon and getting the problem diagnosed as soon as possible is vital to fast recovery, even if the pain doesn’t seem severe at that time.
On the other hand, if severe pain and inflammation soon follows after the popping sound, it’s a bad dislocation or tear, so seek emergency medical attention to prevent further damage and deterioration of the condition.
The Flexible Knee
One might think that the knee extending and being flexible beyond its previous capabilitieswould be a sign of something good, but it isn’t so, unfortunately!
People who experience an ultra-flexible knee after a twist or bump or an overstretch, need to get it checked out as well. More often than not, such flexibility will also be accompanied by weakness in the region and your knee will buckle under pressure.
This weakness and flexibility without pain or swelling is brought on by a silent tear or slight dislocation. Unless treated by a doctor first and a physiotherapist later, it will get worse and cause severe problems down the line.
The Bent and Weak Knee
Opposite to the extremely flexible knee, this is a sign of a knee injury which is more obvious and causes immediate pain, inflammation and other associated problems.
The symptom will present itself as an inability to straighten the injured knee beyond a certain point. Sometimes, on doing so forcibly, it will yield the knee to its fully stretched out position, but will also be accompanied by tremendous and sudden pain.
Common in such injuries, putting any weight on that injured and bent knee will prove to either be completely impossible, or highly painful. As you may imagine, this is not how it should be and immediate treatment is required to save that leg. Locking up of the joint due to displacement, or internal swelling are the two common reasons, brought on by severe injuries such as tears in the tendons of the quadriceps, fractured or dislocated patella and torn tendons that are connected to the patella.
What Should You Do If You Have a Severe Knee Injury?
First and foremost, apply hot bags and ice bags to the area to reduce pain and swelling. Make an appointment with the doctor next, or go to the hospital if its serious enough. However, the doctor will only treat the initial injury, which is not sufficient treatment to heal from a bad knee injury completely and without permanent damage.
After the initial treatment/surgery, the doctor will tell you to contact a good physiotherapist, since physiotherapy is critical for healing properly and rehabilitating back to full functionalityafter any injury, and especially major joint injuries that require surgical treatment.
Check out the official page of the Grande Prairie Physiotherapy & Massage Clinic for more details on how to recover from knee injuries slowly but completely. In addition to providing you with the physiotherapy which you will need to heal from your knee injury, the webpage is also full of tips and guidance regarding injury treatment and management in general.
An important point to remember at all times is that a lot of the things we just discussed arerelevant in the case of most other types of joint injuries as well. The basic idea is to never wait too long if you experience discomfort or symptoms beyond what is common.