Every year, the construction industry accounts for nearly 1.8 million injuries that result from physical strain, and approximately 40 percent of all worker compensation claims involve medical treatment for these injuries. Knee injuries account for a sizable number of reported incidences. Like many injuries, once you injure your knee, you have increased the chances for knee pain later in life.
A survey in the Journal of Civil Engineering and Management revealed 90 percent of all construction workers suffer pain, and 89 percent continue to work right through the pain. When it comes to an injury, suffering is not the best approach to healing. Being knowledgeable about various types of knee injuries and knowing how to deal with them is a much better approach.
Ligaments are bands of strong tissue that stabilize the knee joint. Overstretching can cause the ligament fiber to tear and bleed into the surrounding tissues, causing pain, swelling and a feeling of ‘giving way.’ Severe tears may require surgery.
Cartilage also helps stabilize and protect the knee joint. Pressure from twisting and turning during weight-bearing activities may tear the cartilage, causing pain, swelling and locking of the knee joint.
Tendons are cord-like bands that connect muscle to bone. The patellar tendon connects the kneecap (patella) to the tibia (shin). Patellar tendonitis or ‘jumper’s knee’ is inflammation of the patellar tendon. This is an overuse injury commonly caused by repeated jumping.
Excessive friction between the surface of the patello-femoral joint (kneecap) and the femur (thigh) can result in knee pain.
So what can you do once you’ve injured your knee? Treatment depends on your specific injury, and what your doctor has to say. Mild to moderate injuries will often heal on their own, given time. To speed the following, you can:
- Give your knee a rest for a few days and avoid intense activity.
- Ice your knee for 20-30 minutes at a time, several times a day, for the first two or three days following an injury to help reduce pain and swelling.
- Compress your knee using an elastic bandage, straps or sleeves to add support or reduce swelling.
- Elevate your knee on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down in order to reduce swelling.
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil®, Aleve® or Motrin® to help with pain and swelling. These drugs can have side effects and should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
- Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them.