All patients who presented to our Accident & Emergency Department over a 6-month period with an acute knee injury were randomly assigned to receive either immediate physiotherapy or not prior to further follow up at an out-patient clinic. Patients with trivial injuries not requiring follow up and patients with severe injuries requiring immediate admission were excluded from the study. Patients not immediately referred for physiotherapy could be referred if this was thought necessary at later follow up. There was no statistical difference in the number of outpatient follow up appointments or the length of time to discharge from the clinic between the groups. Those patients referred for physiotherapy immediately had a significantly greater number of total attendances at the physiotherapy department. However more patients in the 'no physiotherapy' group ultimately required arthroscopy for suspected meniscal injury. We conclude that a blanket referral of all acute knee injury patients is unjustified and wasteful of resources. However physiotherapy may be indicated in patients initially suspected of having meniscal injury.
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