The knee can be injured in numerous ways, and can be a result of sports activity, lack of physical activity or underlying health condition such as osteoarthritis. The way in which each specific type of injury is treated is different and knee pain treatment as a result of the underlying injury can vary as well. However, in the case of two common types of injuries, Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and soft tissue, there are some similarities and differences to be aware of in order to ensure the best care and treatment for each specific situation. Read our 10 facts about the knee injury treatment options for the 2 types of injuries in question:
Treatment Varies: While MCL injury treatments tend to be the same from person to person, soft tissue knee injury treatment can vary depending on the age, physical activity level and injury history of each individual person. This also is furthered by the fact that a soft tissue knee injury encompasses a wide variety of damage to the tissue in the knee, whereas a MCL injury is more specific to a particular ligament.
Diagnosis Is Challenging: Both in the case of a soft tissue injury and in those involving ligaments of the knee, diagnosing the issue can be tricky. Doctors use a wide variety of tools in order to do this, but focus on both physical examinations and diagnostic imaging tools. This stage is critically important because treatment options depend on making an accurate diagnosis. The simple fact is, in some cases diagnosis and knee injury treatment is delayed for one to three days in order to allow for a reduction in swelling.
Immobilization Is Common: In both cases of MCL injuries and soft tissue injuries, immobilization is often employed. This may also include the use of braces or splints and crutches as well. However, in soft tissue injuries, this immobilization can come with some consequences such as changes to cartilage and muscle weakness. These factors will be considered on a case by case basis and whether or not immobilization is more beneficial to knee injury treatment than the risk of doing so.
RICE It: For almost all injuries of the knee, RICE (rest, ice, compress and elevate) is employed. This is because this combination of home remedies has been shown to greatly reduce muscle and joint pain associated with injury as well as swelling and inflammation. To get tips on how to choose a safe natural treatment for knee pain, read this article.
Physical Therapy Helps: Although immediately following an injury, reducing the risk of re-injuring it and allowing it to rest are incredibly important, physical therapy and exercises are essential for proper rehabilitation post injury. This is even more important in the case of runners knee treatment or for regular athletes where keeping injured knees healthy for a return to intense physical activity following rehabilitation is important.
Topical Pain Relief: Topical pain relief may be useful in some types of soft tissue injury; however it’s normally not very effective as a form of knee injury treatment. Topical types of therapy are ideal for minor strains and sprains, but are unlikely to provide much benefit for MCL injuries or cases of dislocation.
Sports Is a Source: Knee-related issues are some of the most common basketball injuries encountered, and problems with the knees in high energy sports like soccer make knees the culprit of many soccer injuries as well. In particular, football can regularly be responsible for MCL knee injuries as they are often the result of impactful force to the outside of the knee, which can be common during tackles. These types of problems with the knee are potentially preventable by taking proper precautions like using braces while active, stretching before and after a game and remaining properly hydrated.
Surgery May Be Needed: Although not considered appropriate knee injury treatment in the case of most MCL injuries (although sometimes surgery is appropriate if the MCL is torn), surgery may be applicable for some types of soft tissue damage such as a meniscal tear. However unless serious movement issues are present, even meniscal tears may not require surgery.
Cryotherapy May Help: The use of Whole Body Cryotherapy for athletes is becoming better known as those that are physical for a living enjoy the healing and recovery benefits that cold therapy can provide. However, the practice is also becoming much more popular for injuries, like muscle injuries. And, it’s not entirely uncommon for cryotherapy to be used as a form of knee injury treatment. By applying incredibly cold temperatures in a cryotherapy cold sauna, both pain relief and tissue repair are thought to be achievable. The bitter cold produced by nitrogen gas stimulates the body to repair itself while simultaneously reducing the ability of pain signals to make it to the brain. Read our FAQ section to answer some of the most common questions about Whole Body Cryotherapy.
Diagnosis May be Wrong or Change: Although diagnostic tools make it easy for health care providers to determine whether an MCL injury or soft tissue injury has occurred, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t other underlying issues that may be present with the knee. As such, it’s important that during both types of knee injury treatment that signs and symptoms that can signal further trouble be looked for like warming of the knees, redness and a worsening of symptoms.