Your knees are one of the most important parts of your body – they allow you to run, bend, jump, walk and even sit comfortably. It is made up of four components: ligaments, bones, cartilage, and tendons. Because your knees get so much use throughout the day, they are also one of the most common joints that can get injured. Whether you trip and fall or you wear your knee out from playing sports, your knee may end up requiring surgery at some point in your life.
There are any number of parts of your knee that can be injured or fractured; from a broken kneecap to a torn ligament, there are dozens of ways you can injure yourself, no matter how careful you are. Heat and ice packs can help reduce swelling, but eventually, surgery may be required in order to get full function back into the joint. Meniscal tears are also common knee injuries; this refers to torn cartilage and can be extremely painful. Meniscus surgery is one of the most effective ways to repair the tear.
Talk to your doctor
Many doctors will recommend surgery as a last resort, but this typically depends on the nature of your injury and your age. Other treatment options may be recommended first, such as heat and ice packs, physical therapy and pain mediation.
It’s important to work closely with your doctor and your physical therapist to devise a strategy that works best for you. Treatment strategies can differ from patient to patient, so make sure you understand what kind of treatment your doctor is recommending for you and why. If exercise and physical therapy are part of your treatment plan, it’s important to ensure you’re following the recommendations closely.
If surgery has been recommended, your doctor and your surgeon will explain exactly what the surgery will entail, and what to expect both before and after. Luckily, there are many reputable resources online that can help you understand the process and give you an idea of what to expect. Here are a few factors to consider:
You’re probably going to be walking on crutches for at least a few weeks, so don’t expect to be 100% mobile, especially for the first few days after surgery. Enlist the help of friends or family members to help you with certain tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. If possible, make a few meals beforehand and freeze them. If you live alone, consider hiring a cleaning company to keep your home tidy while you recover.
Make sure you know what you need to do the day before surgery; there is normally medication to take, or specific instructions to follow, such as not eating or drinking 12 hours before. You will likely go home the same day, or the day after, so make sure you have someone available to drive you home.
Your doctor will likely prescribe you pain medication; it’s important to take these exactly as prescribed. A physical therapy plan may also be needed. Your physical therapist will recommend specific exercises, both in your sessions together, and in between sessions.
Monitor Your Progress
If you experience unusual pain, swelling, or bleeding, contact your doctor immediately. Don’t overdo it – your doctor will tell you how much you should be doing at home, when to go back to work, etc. The closer you stick to your doctor’s instructions, the faster you will heal.
While knee injuries are common, they don’t have to mean pain for the rest of your life. With medical advances, you can be up and moving again in no time!
Article By Jennifer Smith