“It’s my Knee”
Generally speaking, we can classify knee pain into two categories. The first is pain that is relatively “new” that has arisen “out of the blue” or from a recent incident such as a sports injury, a fall or some other precipitating event. The other broad category of knee pain is pain that is “old”. Perhaps you can trace the onset of your “old” knee pain back to an inciting event months or even years ago. Or it may be that your “old” knee pain never really began with a specific event… perhaps you attribute it to aging or wear and tear. The flowchart below is designed to help you categorise your knee and lead you to a decision about what to do next.
If you scroll further down the page, you will find a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list. Feel free to peruse this list. The answers will likely be helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to call us on 9665 9667.
FAQs for Knee problems
Click on a question below. If you have a question that isn’t listed, please add it in the comments section below. I’ll be sure to provide an answer and add it to this page.
The most pressing concern after injuring a knee is usually “Have I done something serious?” By “serious”, most of us a referring to structural injury or a problem that will take a good amount of time to resolve. Unfortunately, there is no single, defining indicator that a knee injury is a “serious” one. A good marker of an injury being “not serious”, is a steady reduction of symptoms with time. But that isn’t much help to you within the first few days of an injury when your anxiety is peaking.
The best way to rule out a “serious” injury would be to get some imaging done… an xray, mri etc. But again, that isn’t much use until you’ve had a consultation, gotten the referral, had the imaging done and received the results.
So in-lieu of the information that imaging or time provides, how can we make a judgment about the seriousness of your knee injury? There are very little definitive signs and symptoms, but if you are experiencing or recognise a few of the following, I’d recommend giving us call. We can discuss your symptoms and weigh them against the mechanism of injury and other pieces of info to build a better picture of what you have done to your knee. From there we can decide what to do next… Come in for an assessment… or refer for xray/mri… or give it time to settle etc.
Give us a call if you have;
- unusual (different to what you might normally experience) clicking in your knee
- prominent swelling and / or bruising
- a sense that your knee might “collapse” or “give way” when you try to put weight through your leg
- a sense of instability or shifting inside the knee, like you don’t trust the knee to hold you up
- a “locked knee” i.e. you can’t bend or straighten your knee
This is a difficult question to answer succinctly, primarily because there are so many varieties of knee surgery. And each has a different recovery trajectory across time. In addition to that, there is also wide variability from person to person for the same surgery i.e. not all post ACL reconstruction patients return to sport at the same time. Furthermore, there is variety in post surgery protocols from surgeon to surgeon.
If we are to speak in general terms however, we could break down knee surgeries into two broad categories. The first being surgeries that involve a repair of a specific structure. Examples include a meniscus repair, a ligament repair or reconstruction, a cartilage repair. These procedures involve the fixing of a tissue to another. In ACL reconstruction for example, the “new” ACL needs time to bind with and become securely anchored within the surrounding bony tissue. Because of this, we need an extended period of time to pass before we can load or stress the knee with “normal” activity. We need even more time to pass before we can load or stress the knee with “sport” activity.
In contrast to that, the other broad category of knee surgery is a debridement of a specific structure. Or in more informal terms, a “clean up” job. In this scenario, there is no repair or physical joining together of separate tissues. As such there is much less risk of “undoing” the surgeon’s work. You can be more active, earlier in the rehab process because there isn’t as much healing that has to occur before you begin to weightbear on your knee again. The waiting game following this type of surgery relates to the healing time for the arthroscopic incisions in the skin and other tissues.
Typically, if your surgery involved a repair of a tissue or joint structure, you’ll be in a brace for 4-6weeks, commencing physio about week-2, and progressing through a rehad program that sees you return to sport somewhere between 3-12 months. At the quicker end of that spectrum are surgeries where only minor repairs have occurred e.g. a small repair to the meniscus in your knee. At the other end of the spectrum, procedures like ACL reconstructions tend to have a return to sport timeframe of 9-12months.
To get a more accurate and specific estimate of your return to sport date, give us a call – 02 9665 9667. We can discuss your surgery specifically, liaise with your surgeon and plan your rehab for the fastest, safe return to sport.