Because the knees are load-bearing joints which allow us to walk and run, our knees are among the most important joints in the body. Thanks to their complexity and the constant pressure placed on them, they’re naturally prone to injury – especially if you lead a very active lifestyle or if you play sports.
An injury to a knee doesn’t involve just one main type of injury, as many other types of bodily injuries do. If you have a strained muscle, that’s very straightforward; but sudden or chronic knee pain could be due to a bone fracture in one of the several bones comprising the knee, a partial or total tear of one of the four supportive ligaments, damage to one of the tendons connecting the bones to the adjacent muscles, or damage to the cartilage (meniscus).
How Can a Knee Be Injured?
Some types of knee injury are more common than others, so let’s take a look at some of the most frequently reported injuries:
A bad fall or landing directly onto the knee can fracture the kneecap (patella). It can also be caused by a direct blow to the knee.
Because the kneecap sits in front of the knee to protect the joint, a fractured kneecap is a very common knee injury. Treatment for patellar fractures usually requires immobilization using a cast or a splint until the bone fracture heals on its own. Severe pain and swelling are signs of a fractured knee.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) keeps the knee stable along with the other knee ligaments. The ACL is situated in front of the knee directly behind the patella, as this ligament connects the back of the femur (upper leg bone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone) in a diagonal shape. Compare this to the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL diagonally in the opposite way: connecting the front of the femur to the back of the tibia. Because they cross each other in this fashion, they’re called the cruciate ligaments.
You can easily sprain or tear your ACL by sudden pivots, changes in direction, or direct traumatic impact. Basketball players, soccer players, and football players are especially prone to this type of knee injury.
In severe ACL injuries where the ligament is completely torn or has separated from the bone, surgery is probably required. Pain, swelling, instability, and limited range of motion are signs of an ACL injury.
The meniscus is a section of protective cartilage in the knee joint whose purpose is to absorb shock and to cushion the bones from rubbing against each other. The knee actually has a pair of menisci: the lateral meniscus and medial meniscus. A sudden and forceful twisting of the knee could cause the meniscus to tear, such as in volleyball and tennis.
A torn meniscus typically responds well to conservative treatment methods, but it may require surgical repair if the damage is severe or due to age-related degeneration. Signs of a torn meniscus include hearing a popping sound, swelling, stiffness, the inability to fully extend your knee, or a feeling like your knee is about to give way.
Your patellar tendon connects your patella (kneecap) to your tibia (shinbone) and allows you to run, kick, and jump. However, overuse and bad landings can cause an injury called patellar tendonitis.
Also called jumper’s knee, patellar tendonitis is a common injury among basketball players and volleyball players. This condition starts out with minimal pain and gradually becomes worse. Frequent tearing of the patellar tendon can lead to tendinopathy.
Top Sports Medicine Physician in St. Charles County
If you’ve injured your knee, you may want to consider seeing a sports medicine physician for quick and accurate diagnosis and treatment. Sports medicine physicians are orthopedic doctors who specialize in treating and preventing orthopedic injuries during exercise or playing sports.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians here at Advanced Bone & Joint understand the unique needs of patients with active lifestyles, which is why we employ the most effective and highly advanced treatment methods for a quick return to your activities.
Contact us today by calling our friendly team at (636) 229-4222 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to helping you get back to your active lifestyle!