Recovery from a knee injury can be frustrating for many people. Especially when mobility is affected which is the case with injuries to the knee. Another source of frustration is the timeline for recovery. The timeline can be a long process. For athletes who need and want to get back on the playing field this can be extra frustrating. For every day people they just want life to have some normalcy again and a speedy recovery and the return of mobility can bring normalcy back to life.
This begs the question… How do we facilitate a speedy or accelerated recovery from knee surgery?
To answer this question it is important to understand common knee injuries, what steps to follow in order to quickly recover, the normal or typical time it takes to recover, and how using cryotherapy and compression can facilitate a fast recovery.
Common knee injuries:
ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is a band of connective tissue that connects the tibia to the femur through the middle of the knee-joint. The ACL is an important ligament that provides stability for turning or planting. This type of knee injury can occur without contact and when planting or pivoting the foot in a certain way. Athletes who suffer this type of knee injury often need reconstructive surgery because how important the ACL is to stabilizing the knee.
MCL stands for Medial Collateral Ligament. Like the ACL this knee ligament provides stability to the knee. This ligament runs along the inner side of the knee-joint. Unlike the ACL an MCL injury often occurs when there is physical contact or a blow to the knee.
The Meniscus in the knee is cartilage tissue that gives cushion to the knee-joint and dampens friction between the tibia and femur. The knee-joint has two menisci. A torn Meniscus can come from impact or from rotation at specific angles.
It is possible to have all three of these knee injuries in an accident. Having all three is most common in athletes
Whether you experience all three injuries at once or just one of the mentioned injuries, the recovery process is similar for each injury.
Knee Surgery Recovery
After knee surgery you will want to be back on your feet as fast as possible. To do this it is important to follow the advice and recommendations from your physician. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about the following.
For our bodies to heal we need rest. Even after you begin to get your rang of motion back after surgery it is still important to rest your surgically repaired knee. Your doctor and your physical therapist will give advice about how active you should be during the recovery process. Not only is rest important during waking hours, but also getting plenty of sleep at night will only aid in the recovery process.
The word cryotherapy comes from two Greek words. “Cryo” which means cold and “Therapy” which means heal. Cryotherapy is the applying of cold temperatures to an injury in order to reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and the build-up of excess fluid (edema). Applying cold temperatures to injuries or damaged tissue will slow the cellular metabolism, which results in a decrease in the demand of oxygen that the damaged tissue normal would need.
It is common to have excessive build-up of fluids in and around the knee post surgery. This can slow the healing process down. Compression can prevent this excess fluid from building up and reduces inflammation at the same time. Active compression is when compression is being applied off and on like a pump. This type of compression is more beneficial than static compression. Active compression facilitates oxygenated blood to flow to the damaged tissue and prevents edema. This result is a faster healing timeline for your knee.
Good nutrition and plenty of sleep will allow your body to use the energy it needs to heal itself. Make sure to do this, this can not hurt, but will only help your body.
In conclusion recovery from knee surgery can be a long process. To shorten that process, following your doctor’s instructions is important which may include rest, cryotherapy, compression, and healthy living.