What are the Most Common Knee Injuries?
Are you experiencing pain or swelling in your knee? Perhaps it's painful to bend your knee or bear your weight on one leg. If this is the case, you more than likely have a knee injury and should seek a physician's expertise on determining what is wrong and what kind of treatment is right for you. The most common types of knee injuries are:
Tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (Blown Out Knee)
The anterior cruciate ligament of the knee is one of four principal knee ligaments. However, it seems to be the most important ligament in terms of a sense of well-being and stability of the knee. When torn, it is now routinely rebuilt utilizing: a cadaver allograft or portion of the patellar tendon or hamstrings tendons as a donor source. Some orthopedic surgeons utilize an arthroscopically aided approach in their cruciate reconstructions, and find that with proper postoperative rehabilitation, the prognosis is quite good for returning to competitive sports.
Injuries to the ACL are among the most common of all sports-related knee injuries. It's estimated that each year in the United States between 100,000 and 200,000 people — roughly about one in every 3,000 people — sustain a ruptured or torn ACL.
An ACL becomes torn when it's stretched beyond its normal range of elasticity. Generally, the injury occurs during exercise or sports, although a torn ACL doesn't usually result from contact between players. Once the ligament tears, it doesn't heal — it remains loose.
Women have ACL injuries more often than men do. The exact reason for this isn't clear. It may be due to differences in anatomy, hormones, strength or conditioning. Wearing cleats during aggressive cutting or pivoting activities may increase the risk of ACL injuries.
Arthritis of the Knee
Arthritis is a gradual wearing down of the smooth gliding surfaces of the knee joint. When this occurs, raw bone becomes exposed within the knee joint which becomes painful with activity. There is a gradation of treatments available to today's well trained orthopedic surgeon, and treatment protocols should be tailored to the specific conditions, age, and demands of the patient.
There are three basic types of arthritis that may affect the knee joint.
- Osteoarthritis- Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of knee arthritis. OA is usually a slowly progressive degenerative disease in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away. It most often affects middle-aged and older people.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory type of arthritis that can destroy the joint cartilage. RA can occur at any age. RA generally affects both knees.
- Post-traumatic Arthritis- Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the knee. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear.
Meniscal Cartilage Tear
Meniscal Cartilages are the "shock absorbers" between the femur and the tibia bone at the knee joint. A torn cartilage is the most common condition of the knee which ends up requiring surgical intervention. This is an outpatient arthroscopic surgical procedure and patients almost always go home the same day. Patients are usually allowed to walk on the leg as soon as it feels comfortable, and a short course of physical therapy is of benefit.
Advise on the amount of time away from work is highly dependent of the nature of my patient's work. For example, an accountant or lawyer undergoing arthroscopic surgery on a Friday can usually be on the job Monday (if they really want to), however an unskilled farm laborer under workman's compensation many times will require much more time to recover before feeling up to returning to the rigors of walking up and down tomato fields.
Various Runners' Conditions Affecting the Knee
There are a number of various overuse type syndromes affecting the knee. The more serious conditions frequently are surgical problems and are covered in the topics above. Other conditions can occur from a multitude of reasons such as poor training practice, old running shoes, and well as running surface issues. Iliotibial Band Syndrome is an inflammatory condition affecting the outside of the knee and presents with pain particularly when running downhill. Pes Anserine bursitis is a similar condition on the inner half of the knee and would also be classified as an inflammatory disorder.
Limited Cartilage Defects of the Knee
Frequently injuries can occur to the articular cartilage of the knee which are focal in nature. Past surgical treatments of these injuries have included drilling of the defect, abrading the defect, or even cutting the bones to change the weight bearing surfaces so as to lessen the forces affecting the cartilage defect. New treatments are evolving and currently the Carticel articular cartilage regeneration is gaining increasing interest amongst orthopedic surgeons. This procedure has been utilized in Sweden for about eight years and has only been clinically introduced into the United States in 1995.
Fractures and Dislocations
A fracture is a cracked, broken, or shattered bone and is usually diagnosed by an X-ray. You may have trouble moving that bone and it's likely there's a lot of pain. Patellar dislocation happens when the patella (the kneecap) is knocked off to the side of the knee joint by twisting or some kind of impact. Sometimes it will go back to its normal position by itself, but usually it will need to be put back into place by a doctor.
Symptoms include swelling and a lot of pain at the front of your knee. There will usually be an abnormal bulge on the side of your knee, and you may be unable to walk.
Knee Pain from Ligament Injuries
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
Ligament injuries to the knee are very common in sports that require stopping and starting or quickly changing directions. These extreme forces on the knee can result in torn ligaments. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are the most often injured, but the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) can also be injured.
Cruciate ligament injuries don't always cause pain, but typically cause a loud "pop." Most of these injuries are confirmed with an MRI. Arthroscopic surgery is sometimes the best way to find a partial tear.
A sprain means you've stretched or torn a ligament. Common knee sprains usually involve damage to the ACL and/or MCL. The most serious sprains involve complete tears of one or more of the knee ligaments. Symptoms of knee sprains include:
- a popping or snapping sound in the knee at the time of injury
- pain that seems to come from within the knee, especially with movement
- not being able to put any weight on that leg
- fluid behind the kneecap
- the knee feels loose or unstable or gives way
A strain means you've partially or completely torn a muscle or tendon. With knee strains, you may feel symptoms similar to a sprain and may see bruises around the injured area.
Tendonitis happens when a tendon gets irritated or inflamed. It is often caused by overuse. A person with tendinitis might have pain or tenderness when walking, or when bending, extending, or lifting a leg.
If you are suffering from knee or joint pain, please contact our office immediately to schedule an evaluation.
Dallas Orthopedics Institute
9330 Poppy Drive
Dallas , TX 75218
Orthopedic surgerySurgical and non-surgical methods of treating injuries and degenerative diseases..