A number of health issues or injuries can lead to knee pain, and anyone experiencing this pain understands how quickly it slows you down. Unfortunately, many people hesitate to see a doctor, hoping the pain will diminish, or fearing the worst — knee surgery — if the pain progresses. Yet most cases can be treated without surgery, says Luis H. Urrea II, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at El Paso Specialty Hospital.
“There are many options for treating and rehabilitating knee pain and injuries,” says Dr. Urrea. “The most important thing is to get an early, accurate diagnosis so we can give you the best treatment to maintain an active life and prevent you from experiencing injury or debilitation later on.”
See your doctor for treatment options
Don’t wait to meet with your doctor if you’ve injured your knee or are experiencing consistent pain. Schedule an appointment to help identify the issue and begin treatment options, which can be as simple as rest or exercise depending on the extent of the injury.
Start with R.I.C.E.
For many knee injuries, your doctor will first recommend R.I.C.E. — Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. These four steps help the body begin the healing process. And it’s important to allow your knee adequate time to heal. Too often people try to expedite the healing process in an effort to get back to regular activities. However, that results in greater risk for re-injuring the knee. Be patient, and check with your doctor on your progress.
Ease into activity
Your doctor or physical therapist may also give you exercises you can do at home to help regain motion without causing further stress to the injury. If your doctor does recommend surgery, you may also need to do recommended exercises both before and after the surgery to avoid a stiff knee and help with the healing process.
When knee surgery is needed
Depending on the issue, minimally-invasive surgical options can help repair your knee and get you back to your activities. One of the most common knee injuries Dr. Urrea sees is a meniscus tear, which can be repaired using arthroscopic surgery, a minimally-invasive procedure in which a miniature camera is inserted into the knee which guides the surgeons in repairing the tear using smaller surgical instruments. The team at El Paso Specialty Hospital also uses arthroscopy to repair cartilage, knee cap, and ligament injuries such as torn ACLs.
In some cases with more significant injury, or when the wear and tear of life leads to issues such as significant arthritis in the joints, your doctor may recommend knee replacement. Though more extensive, this option will help restore function and allow you to live a fuller life without pain.
Take time to recover
Whatever the extent of your knee injury, Dr. Urrea emphasizes the importance of taking time to recover fully. If you want to avoid further pain and injury down the road, don’t rush the healing process. “Remember, we’re not all Superman or Superwoman. We need time and rest to let our bodies heal,” says Dr. Urrea. “Get early treatment and follow the instructions from your doctor so we can get you back in the game and enjoying life.”
If you’re experiencing knee pain or have injured your knee, contact your doctor today to identify the best treatment option for you.