Coming Back From Injury - When and How?

Dec 13, 2019 01:17 PM EST | By Staff Reporter

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Coming back from injury - When and How?

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Knee injuries - They're a hazard of any sport that involves significant lateral stresses and football has plenty of those.

Whether you're changing direction at speed, taking hits or delivering them, then there's a good chance you're going to tweak something (and let's hope that it's just been a tweak!).

For those that have been unfortunate enough to experience more than just a tweak and have gone the whole hog, what are some of the most common injuries, how long does it take to recover from them, what kind of functionality can you expect following recovery and how should you get there?

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

There are a number of ways a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) might occur:

●      Sudden changes in speed or direction (cutting)

●      Twisting while your foot is planted

●      Awkward landings from collisions or jumps

●      Stopping without any deceleration

●      Direct hits to the knee, such as those sustained during a football tackle

Sufferers of an ACL injury will most likely hear or feel a pop in the affected knee and will experience acute pain, rapid swelling and an inability to support their weight on the affected knee.

Initial treatment of the injury comprises of the usual suspects:

●      Rest

●      Ice

●      Compression

●      Elevation

Weeks of rehabilitative therapy will then be required in order to restore a normal range of motion and allow an individual to return to some physical activity such as running. Equipment is an important consideration at this point, as the joint will require proper support and it may be worth visiting a specialist running shop, having your gait assessed and purchasing a pair of running shoes for bad knees.

Surgery may be required in some instances - Especially when the injury afflicts an athlete who partakes on a regular basis, at a higher than amateur level or where the injury is more complex.

Knee Dislocation

Dislocation of the knee occurs when a person collides at speed with another person or the ground when their leg is bent. It can also be caused by over-extension (bending it further than the joint can tolerate).

In the event of a dislocated knee, the affected party will not be able to move the joint and deformation of the knee may be visible to the naked eye.

It's possible that a dislocated knee can be treated non-surgically (providing no peripheral damage has been done, i.e. nerve or blood vessel damage) and, if that's the case, a medical professional may manipulate the joint back into the correct position before applying a splint that's generally worn for at least a few weeks.

Knee dislocation often prevents athletes from returning to perform at the level they were capable of pre-injury. However, it's perfectly reasonable to expect to return to an active lifestyle and sport participation, providing the injury isn't too severe.

Meniscus Tears

One of the most frequently occurring injuries to knee cartilage, meniscal tears are painful and debilitating. Those who suffer a meniscal tear will most likely experience:

●      Knee pain

●      Swelling of the joint

●      A "pop" during the injury event

●      A decreased range of motion

●      The knee getting stuck or "locking"

Tears to the outer portion of the meniscus will often heal of their own accord if adequately rested. However, in some cases, minor surgery may be required to repair the tear or remove problematic tissue.

The prognosis for minor tears is generally very good, with many making a return to their chosen sport. Those who suffer a major tear, however, are at a much greater risk of arthritis in the affected joint later in life.

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