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Knee pain happens. Athletes and weekend warriors might find themselves with swollen, painful knees due to sports injury or simple overuse. Knee pain and swelling often needs to be checked by a sports chiropractor, but you can do some things at home that can help the healing process and prevent the painful knee from becoming a chronic injury.

Icing the knee at the painful injury site (see video) for 15 minutes at a time is crucial. Ice will decrease knee swelling and prevent the rapid formation of scar tissue. Ice saves–don’t forget this principle. Wrapping the pained knee in an ACE bandage will provide stability and prevent further knee injury. Then staying off the knee–NO SPORTS!–is essential.

Swelling can signify a torn knee ligament–like the ACL (anteriorcruciate ligament), PCL (posteriorcruciate ligament), MCL (medial cruciate ligament) or LCL (lateral cruciate ligament). Ligament tears can be rehabilitated conservatively, thereby avoiding knee surgery. A torn meniscus can also be conservatively treated. Meniscal tears can go through knee therapy and rehab successfully, but what is necessary is a proper knee diagnosis. If what you have is a simple knee sprain, then ice, therapy and rehab will get you back into your sport quickly.

If you have a painful knee injury get in to see a sports chiropractor right away. If you live or work in my neighborhood, come visit my Los Angeles, West Hollywood or Beverly Hills sports chiropractic office for knee pain relief today.

Good news for weekend warriors: Rehab is shown to prevent knee surgery.*  This may seem like a no brainer to some, but common orthopedic wisdom is that ACL tears–a common type of knee injury in athletes–almost always require surgery. New research shows, however, that rehab-first may be a better option.

A study of Swedish amateur athletes–mostly soccer players–found that those who got anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery right away plus physical therapy fared no better than those that got the knee rehab first; and although 50% of the rehab-first subjects eventually required surgery, they were not any worse off than had they gotten the surgery early on.

The implications of this study are that people suffering from ACL tears can and should try rehab before going under the knife.  If it isn’t obvious, all surgery has inherent risk due to the invasive nature of the procedure.  Also, at $10K+ per pop (no pun intended), these results are economically encouraging.  If you end up needing surgery later, you can still get it with little fear of turning out worse for waiting.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligament of the knee.  Its function is to prevent forward, or anterior, movement of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (thigh bone).  It is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee.  Football, soccer and basketball players are particularly prone to ACL tears, as are skiers, as a result of the pivot and twist motions required in these sports.

Approximately 200,000 Americans go through ACL reconstruction each year, although many people can get by with a knee brace and rehab.  But, of course, getting the surgery depends on how the injury affects one’s lifestyle.

The study’s results showed that both the surgery-first and rehab-first groups fared about the same when it came to things like pain, performance in sports and how much their knee interfered with their lives.  Of those that received rehab first, about 40% needed to get the surgery later, and this group fared no better or worse than those that didn’t get the surgery at all.

One problem with the study is that the results were only measured after two years, so there could be some changes later.  The researchers will be doing a follow up at five years to study outcomes at that time.  Also, it appears that the rehabilitation group showed some signs of trouble with the meniscus, a cushioning disk in the knee joint, which some doctors think could increase the risks of degenerative arthritis in the future.

I find this study interesting and the results encouraging, because I was also under the impression that ACL tears pretty much required surgery.  Being a Los Angeles sports chiropractor, I see my fair share of knee injuries, and torn ACLs definitely limp into my office from time to time.  But now I’ll be a little less quick to refer the client out to an orthopedist.  Six months of rehab might be just fine in some of those cases.  Thank you, Swedes, for the great work!

*A Randomized Trial of Treatment for Acute Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tears

Richard B. Frobell, Ph.D., Ewa M. Roos, P.T., Ph.D., Harald P. Roos, M.D., Ph.D., Jonas Ranstam, Ph.D., and L. Stefan Lohmander, M.D., Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 2010; 363:331-342July 22, 2010


Knee pain is a common injury in athletes, especially tennis and basketball players, as well as dancers. Knee pain comes in many forms, but if it is along the perimeter of the knee and feels sore or burning, then it is possible that a patellar tendonitis is the cause (also known as Jumper’s Knee).

Tendinitis is rarely a primary condition–it is usually secondary to something else. In the case of patellar tendonitis, the primary cause could be either tight muscles or foot dysfunction. To find out what is causing your knee pain, it is important to get evaluated by a doctor, preferably a sports chiropractor.

Watch the video above to see how we treat patellar tendinitis in my Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood sports chiropractic clinic.

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