On March 17th I tripped on an escalator and I had 2 deep cuts on my knee and shoulder pain. Currently my knee cuts have healed but any pressure applied to my knee (kneeling, accidental bumps, etc.) causes an unusual amount of pain that lasts about 30 minutes. My shoulder is also still a concern. My arm is significantly weaker, I can not hold up my arm while fully extended without shaking, I have a smaller range of motion compared to my other arm, and any sudden movement causes tenderness throughout my arm. Should I seek a physical therapy appointment or are my injuries merely a small injury with a long recovery time?

Allison B.


Thank you for your question Allison! 

Without a formal physical therapy examination, we’re limited in our ability to give you specific information regarding your knee and shoulder. However, based on your inquiry, there are several general principles that we can discuss.  

After a trauma, such as a fall, there can be several tissue structures that can become inflamed or damaged depending on the position of the fall. Regarding the knee, there are several structures such as the patella, bursa, menisci, and ligaments that may have been interrupted during the trauma that can result in pain and inflammation. As with the shoulder, in general, weakness and loss of range of motion can be a result of injury to the rotator cuff muscles, nervous tissue, and/or bony structures of the glenohumeral joint. At this time, it is difficult to discuss the seriousness of each injury without an evaluation, and it is imperative that an exam is performed by a medical provider, before a formal diagnosis can be made.

In general, ice can be used as a therapeutic intervention that can help control swelling and inflammation however it should be applied appropriately. Generally, it is recommended that ice be applied for 15-20 minutes with use of small barrier such as a pillow case, or towel in order to avoid further irritation. If symptoms worsen or do not change within a few weeks, it is highly recommended that a formal evaluation is conducted by a physical therapist to determine the pain generating source. The physical therapist will conduct an exam, and possibly provide interventions including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and any modalities that may be appropriate for the condition. If necessary, the PT will further refer to the appropriate medical provider if imaging or further medical intervention is necessary.

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This reply is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.