As young women become more and more involved in competitive sports, there is a proportional rise in knee injuries among the group; the prevalence is almost 3 times higher than that of young men. According to a review published inThe Nurse Practitioner, recognizing symptoms, risk factors, appropriate treatment, and prevention are key in helping these women stay strong, healthy, and pain free.
When completing a pre-participation physical exam, physicians should address any potential factors that can increase knee pain incidence such as body mass index, specific sports, and the patient’s fitness level. During the exam, it is important to talk to the patient about any pain she might be feeling or has felt in the past (eg, pain from walking up and down stairs, squatting, or during and after physical activity.) Edema and inflammation coinciding with knee pain could also be symptoms of chronic injury. The physician should be sure to rule out any acute diagnosis, as the treatment can be very different.
Once diagnosed, knee pain can be easily managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and elevation of the injured leg. An easy way to remember what to do is to follow the principles behind PRICE: pain management, rest, ice, compression, elevation. Proper rest between activities is also key to maintaining proper knee health.
Effective communication and education between the physician and patient will lead to greater prevention of knee injuries. It is important to encourage females to be active, but also to educate them on the consequences of overdoing it and the importance of physical safety so they can have fun and stay in the game longer.