Most exercise and athletic endeavors put some stress on your knees. If you injure your knee, what should you do?
If you have any symptoms of instability (knee buckling, new catching sensation in the knee, or difficulty walking) you should be evaluated by your physician immediately. If you have instability on exam you may need additional imaging to look for a significant soft tissue tear.
Most knee injuries do not result in instability. For an acute injury rest and ice is typically sufficient if your injury is mild. In this case after the acute inflammatory response subsides after a few days, your pain should gradually reduce. If your pain persists, you should get evaluated as this could be a sign of a more significant injury. If your functional ability does not rebound quickly after an acute injury, you should be evaluated as well.
For most musculoskeletal conditions, earlier diagnosis and treatment results in better outcomes. An injured knee that does not heal well will make you more prone to arthritis long term. If you can intervene with conservative treatments at an early stage, you may be able to prevent this progression long term. Focused physical therapy and bracing after an injury can help you safely recuperate. Animal studies have also shown that regenerative therapies such as PRP and Stem cells can help prevent progression to more significant arthritis after a joint has been injured. The key point after an acute knee injury is to be aware of when you should be evaluated and to consider early intervention if appropriate in order to prevent a more long term problem from developing.