How Long Does a Knee Injury Take to Heal

Friday, 31 January 2020 | Nina Klein

How Long Does a Knee Injury Take to Heal

Recovering from a Knee Injury
Knee injuries aren’t uncommon for athletes and runners. While getting injured is all part of the game, your journey to recovery shouldn’t be a difficult one.If you’ve suffered a knock to your knee before, you’ll be familiar with how it disrupts your everyday life. This may have made you more cautious, but it’s impossible to completely avoid getting injured again. The best way to safeguard against knee injury is to better understand its causes and risk factors. This explainer aims to arm you with this knowledge and outline sport injury recovery times and both conventional and alternative treatments.

Different types of knee injuries
The knee is a complicated joint and therefore (unfortunately) there are many ways in which you can injure it:

Connective tissues, or ligaments, are what hold your knees together. If they tear, they can result in sprains that restrict your movement. There are four major ligaments in the knee, with the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) (which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone), the most commonly injured. Sprains can be classified into Grade 1, 2, or 3 depending on the severity of the tear. The higher the grade, the greater the extent of the tear and the more unstable the knee. Torn ligament recovery time usually lasts for around six weeks.

When the muscles surrounding the knees are stretched, it can lead to strains. Aside from being painful, they can also stop you from moving freely. The normal range of motion of the knee is often disrupted in such cases.

The fluid, protective pouch around the knee is called the bursa. When this becomes infected or irritated, it’s called bursitis. Bursae are an important part of the knee because they absorb shock and eliminate friction between the muscles.

Meniscus tears
A meniscus is a half-circular cartilage that absorbs shock and acts as a cushion between the knee and the thigh bone. Tears in this area are usually caused by overuse and aging.

Joint dislocation
If a large amount of force is applied to the knee, it can be dislocated. When this happens, the blood vessels and nerves surrounding the area can be damaged too. You should seek immediate treatment or surgery for a joint dislocation.

If there is a direct blow to the bone using extreme force, it could crack. Fractured kneecaps most commonly occur when someone uses their knees to break a fall. People with osteoporosis or low bone density are more prone to suffer from fractures because their bones tend to be more brittle and fragile.

What causes knee injuries?
More often than not, knee injuries are caused by overexerting the knee or the areas surrounding it. While doing sports, athletes could possibly bend or twist it in such a way that a muscle tears or a bone breaks. Accidents involving high amounts of force such as motor vehicle crashes can also cause knee injuries. Having certain diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or joint disease can also increase one’s chances of injuring their knees. Though it is impossible to completely avoid injury, here are several risk factors that could increase the chances of knee injury:

Knee injury risk factors

  • Sports - Many sports require movements that place added stress on your knees Skiing, for example, can lead to stress on the knees due to the restricted movement of your feet. Another example is basketball where players have to pivot and jump. These sudden and repetitive movements can put stress on the knees.
  • Previously injured knee - If you’ve already hurt your knee once, then it may not be as strong as it was before. Unfortunately, this could make it easier for you to injure your knee again.
  • Excessive weight - If you put on a lot of weight, your bones have more work to do to support that mass. For those who are very overweight, even ordinary daily activities can cause wear and tear on the knees.
  • Weak muscles - A lack of strength and flexibility in your muscles can also contribute to knee injuries. Strong muscles protect bones and joints. Aside from this, they also make you very stable and balanced, thereby decreasing the risk of falls.
  • Gender - Women are more likely to develop knee injuries simply because of how their bodies are built, for example, the way their hip bone is attached to the thigh bone and the fact that they carry greater mass on the lower body.

How long does a knee injury take to heal?
For knee sprains or strains, the healing time is typically 2 to 4 weeks. For major injuries as a result of trauma, it can take from 4 up to 12 months. Of course, this healing time would be dependent on the treatment being administered and the lifestyle of the patient. How can I tell if my knee injury is serious? There are several ways to tell if your knee injury needs serious medical attention:

How can I tell if my knee injury is serious?
There are several ways to tell if your knee injury needs serious medical attention:

  • You heard a popping sound right after an incident - This sound is created by ligament tears or dislocated kneecap.
  • Your knee looks deformed - This is a symptom of a fractured or dislocated kneecap.
  • You can’t straighten your leg or put weight on it - There may be a fracture on your kneecap or tear in the tendon.
  • Your knees are weaker than usual - If they keep buckling underneath the usual amount of weight you carry, then it’s possible that you may have an ACL tear or some other form of ligament injury.
  • You have a greater range of motion - Are your legs bending in a different way than usual? This may seem like a good thing but this can also indicate that there is a dislocation or tear around your knee.

What is the recovery time for a knee injury?
Knee injury healing time varies, depending on the gravity of the injury and the treatment used on the patient. After your knee has healed, you should also give it time to rest and recover. Unfortunately, a torn ligament treatment is dependent on how much time you give it to recover so avoid putting too much stress on it too soon.

For sprains, it can take up to a month for the knee to fully recover and it may not be advisable to engage in sports or physical activities for up to another month after that.

The same rule applies for traumatic injuries. In some cases, you may also choose to undertake a physical rehabilitation program which might last several weeks, or several months, depending on the type of injury sustained.

Helping your knee to recover after injury
Most people wonder if knee injuries can heal on their own. The answer is yes, but it depends on the type of injury. If you simply strain or sprain your knee, it can heal by itself if you allow it time to rest and repair.

Major injuries such as ligament or cartilage tears may require surgery. In many cases, however, even surgery doesn’t completely fix the problem and the knee doesn’t return to its original healthy state. An alternative treatment is stem cell-based therapy, which regenerates the knee and its functionality at the cellular level.

Can knee injuries be prevented?
Unfortunately, no matter how much we try to be careful, there is always the risk of an innocuous incident or unlucky accident causing a knee injury.

However, we can take precautions to decrease the risk of injury or prevent the wear and tear of the protective layers around our knees. Here are some practical tips to lower the chances of hurting your knee:

  1. Wear protective gear
    If you regularly play sports or work in an industry that causes a lot of stress on your knees, make sure to wear protective gear. Don’t forget to wear proper shoes, preferably ones that absorb shock which put less stress on your knees.

  2. Strengthen your muscles with exercise
    There are many types of exercises which help you prevent knee injury. You can do squats, lunges, and other stretching exercises. It’s especially important to do this before and after a workout or other extreme physical activities.

  3. Understand your limits and take a rest
    Understanding your limits doesn’t only apply to people who have been injured. If you play sports or go to the gym frequently, make sure you know your limits and give yourself time to rest. Your muscle repairs itself during that time and fatigue can also cause you to be less careful, which can lead to accidents.

  4. Improve your posture and exercise technique
    Sometimes we may be doing our exercises the wrong way. The incorrect posture while doing squats or lunges can cause additional stress on our knees. Ask your trainer or coach for help to improve your posture or technique.

  5. Eat food rich in vitamins
    Feast on meat, fish, shellfish, seeds, nuts, whole grains - foods rich in Zinc which helps in healing wounds. Fruits and vegetables with a lot of vitamin C also speed up recovery and prevent inflammation.

Can knee injuries be reversed?
The human body can do wonders, but sadly, major trauma can sometimes cause irreparable damage. Surgery and taking pain medication can only do so much but it doesn’t fully restore the knee to its original form.

This is where stem-cell based treatment can help with its regenerative qualities. Bear in mind that each case still needs to be evaluated. The good news is that the inclusion of stem cell therapy for knee injuries and bone degeneration in recovery programs, like the one we have at ANOVA Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has given hope to patients who need a faster and long-term solution for their injuries.

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