Sports injuries, the most common of which is anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, have killed the dreams of many promising athletes. As per the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur every year. It is also reported to account for $500 million in health care costs each year. Those who play high-intensity sports such as football, soccer, and basketball are commonly affected.
Ligaments connect bones. The ACL is one of the two ligaments that meet in the middle of the knee, connecting the thighbone to the shinbone and helping keep your knee joint in place. ACL tears happen when the knee is hyperextended, or twisted as one suddenly pivots or sidesteps while his or her foot is firmly planted on the ground. Heavy and awkward landings may also be a cause.
If you are an athlete, applying first aid upon the onset of knee pain helps prevent worsening of your knee’s condition.
1. Rest. Stop whatever is causing you pain. Rest your knee for a day. Use the pain as a guide to determine what activities you can safely do.
2. Apply cold compress. Cold helps reduce pain, swelling and muscle contraction by slowing the transmission of pain impulses. This must be applied immediately to an injury for about 10-20 minutes. Do not prolong as it can result in the opposite.
3. Compress. Wrap the knee firmly with a bandage or elastic wrap and extend it down the lower leg. Apply it loosely enough for proper blood flow but tight enough to reduce swelling and for better support.
4. Elevate leg. Place the lower leg higher than the knee, and the knee higher than the heart to reduce swelling. You may use pillow and cushions for support.
5. Apply heat. You should only do this during the recovery phase, and only if necessary. This is because heat can worsen swelling by stimulating stronger blood flow. Alcohol intake and massages to the area can also cause the same.
The first aid can work during a short period after application. New Jersey athletes are advised to seek immediate assistance from pain relief centers which provide treatment for knee pain in Paramus, NJ if it does not subside. A medical evaluation should be undertaken to determine the extent of damage on the knee.
In some cases, a severe ACL tear may require surgery to restore knee function. Experts advise seeking less aggressive remedies first such as physical therapy, medication, and injections. For instance, Hackensack, NJ knee pain injections serve effectively complement hyaluronan, the joint’s natural lubricant that aids smooth movement and reduces grating. This treatment is available in pain relief centers such as MedWell Spine, Ostheoarthritis and Neuropathy Center.
(Source: Statistics on ACL Injuries in Athletes, Livestrong.com)