Most people who tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) think one of two things: that their sporting career is over or they have to undergo surgery.
But St John of God Warrnambool hospital physiotherapist Karen Benson is living proof there's another road to recovery.
When Ms Benson heard a pop in her right knee while playing hockey earlier this year, her life turned upside down. She was no longer the physio, she was the patient.
Instead of surgery, she completed a 12-week program at St John of God's outpatient gym to build up her strength to keep her knee stable.
"The automatic thought for most people is to go straight to surgery but what's recommended now is that you trial an intense period of rehab before making any decisions," she said.
"I've got three kids, a husband that works full time and a job of my own, I thought 'how on earth am I going to fit in an operation?'
"The physio was a really appealing option for me and I started to look into the research which showed that in some cases, up to 50 per cent people who tear their ACL do not need surgery to get back to their daily activities.
"It's been an absolutely amazing experience, from thinking I would never be able to do sport again to having a full recovery, it's fantastic."
Ms Benson said she wanted to make other people aware of the different treatment options available for knee injuries.
"My first thought was that I would need surgery and be off my feet for a number of months, so it was a big relief to know that I could try this and get the care close to home," she said.
"When it comes to an ACL injury you're never out of the woods, and when I return to sport things might be different, but at the moment I can do all the things I want to do and at this stage am in the perfect position to commence the summer hockey season.
"Whereas originally I told me team I would be unavailable for 18 months to two years - that was my instant reaction."
Even if she does need surgery, her knee is at the strongest it could be.
"There's no swelling, there's no pain and my balance and reaction is as good as it could be. If I go in for surgery I have a much higher chance of recovery, it's a win-win scenario," Ms Benson said.
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