Throughout the past few months, you’ve likely seen Tufts Medical Center stopping by your leagues, Yoga Around Town, and the SBS Running Club! This incredible partner, located in the Theatre District, is one of Boston’s top hospitals and has a growing primary care practice, sports medicine program and emergency room services. We caught up with Tufts MC’s Dr. Matthew Salzler once again for a three-part blog series, “Ice It or ER?”. We’ll look at knee, shoulder and ankle injuries to determine the best ways to keep those joints healthy, and what to do if you’re in pain. First up, the knees!
Check our Dr. Salzler’s advice below, and tweet any questions you have to Tufts MC.
Q: What causes knee pain?
A: Pain in any joint can be broken down into acute traumatic injuries and chronic overuse injuries. Examples of acute knee injuries are ACL tears, meniscus tears, MCL sprains and patella and quad-tendon ruptures. Examples of overuse injuries are IT band syndrome, patella tendonitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Q: What is an acute injury and where do they come from?
A: Surprisingly, acute injuries come more from non-contact than contact. Acute injuries tend to come from high speed twisting and turning events of the knee, pivoting motions or deep bends/loads. However, a direct blow to the knee from side/front/back can also cause acute injuries.
Q: What are the symptoms to look for with acute injuries and what should I do if I think I have one?
A: The symptoms of acute injuries involve acute pain, swelling, possible popping, difficulty weight bearing, stretching or bending the knee, and a kneecap (patella) dislocation. In general, if you have painful pop, your knee swells or you can’t bend/straighten knee – seek care. For these types of injuries, call a sports medicine doctor ASAP.
Q: What are the symptoms of chronic overuse injuries and what should I do if I think I have one?
A: These injuries sound like they are not as severe, but they can be just as, if not more painful than acute injuries. Overuse injuries usually cause pain but can cause things like snapping and popping. You might even feel like your knee is giving out because of the pain. Or, the pain could be more of a mild, persistent nuisance. These types of injuries typically do not need urgent treatment, but stretching, ice and general strengthening exercises can improve the symptoms. If symptoms persist more than a few weeks, try limiting activity or if you have more concerns, seek additional care from a sports medicine doctor.
Q: What are the best types of prevention for both acute and chronic knee injuries?
A: Acute and chronic injuries have the same type of prevention. The best prevention is general body fitness including working on core strength and flexibility. You should not just exercise the muscles immediately around the knees, but also work on strengthening the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Including aerobic exercise in your routine may help prevent injuries as well. Always take note when your body feels fatigued. When fatigued, many injuries happen because you can’t protect yourself as well.
The best exercise for overall prevention of knee injuries is full body squats with good form – that is key. Checkout the YouTube video below or talk to a trainer to learn how to do this exercise.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on stretches to do before my SBS games?
A: Warming up with some light jogging and stretching before game or practice hasn’t been proven to help, but it also won’t hurt. Try to arrive at your game a few minutes early to get a quick warmup in with your teammates.
The content provided in this post is intended solely for the information of the reader. This information is not medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a medical professional. Please call 617-545-5352 to make an appointment with a physician if you’d like more information.