Common Knee Injuries: What You “Knee-d” to Know

It’s Pain Awareness Month, and one of the most common areas we feel that pain is our knees. But, how much do you know about knee injuries and how to protect the largest joint in your body from injury?

Your knees play a critical role in keeping you flexible and mobile, but unfortunately, they are often vulnerable to injuries. Fractures, dislocations and tears are all injuries your knees could sustain from sports and other physical activities.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, here’s what you need to know regarding common knee injuries:

  • Fractures: Fractures to the kneecap are the most common types of fractures around the knee. Patellar fractures account for nearly 1 percent of all fractures and most often occur in 20-50-year-old individuals as a result of falls and vehicle collisions. Men are almost twice as likely to fracture their kneecaps as women.
    • Symptoms of patellar fractures include severe bruising and inabilities to walk or straighten the knee. If the patella has been displaced, surgery will be required. Your doctor will discuss this procedure and any possible complications. If the fracture does not require surgery, your knee will be placed in a cast or splint to allow the broken ends to remain firmly in place while they heal. Recovery can take between six and eight weeks, and your doctor may suggest avoiding activities requiring frequent bending or squatting to protect your knee from future injuries.
  • Dislocations: When a bone in the knee slips out of place, this is referred to as a dislocation. Patellar dislocations are the most common type of dislocation, and they can either be complete or partial. When the knee bends, the patella slides up and down over the trochlear groove of the articular cartilage – a slippery substance cushioned between the ends of the femur and tibia. A patellar dislocation as a result of a direct blow or fall occurs when the patella slides out of the trochlear groove either partially or completely.
    • While the patella can easily slide back into place with assistance or even by itself, a patellar dislocation still requires medical attention. Dislocations are painful and can result in a loss of function to the knee joint. Your orthopedic surgeon will need to x-ray your knee and may even order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan (MRI), if more detailed images are required to diagnose the injury. Dislocations to the knee can typically be treated with a brace to immobilize the knee during the healing process and physical therapy to help restore the knee joint to full motion.
  • Tears: Tears can occur in the following areas in the knee:
    • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear: An ACL tear is a most common injury for athletes who play high-contact sports such as football, soccer and basketball. The ACL is a ligament found inside the knee that crosses over the PCL to aid in your knee’s ability to move back and forth. When athletes change direction quickly or land incorrectly, the ACL can sprain or tear. Unless the individual is elderly or has a low activity level, injuries to the ACL require surgery to reconstruct the ligament with a tissue graft. Recovery can take at least six months.
    • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) tear: A PCL tear occurs when an individual receives a powerful blow to the knee when the knee is bent. As with other knee injuries, this type of tear typically happens as a result of vehicle collisions and contact during sports. PCL tears are typically partial tears and can often heal without surgery. Your orthopedic physician will most likely recommend a brace, physical therapy and the RICE treatment method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
    • Collateral Ligament tears:  This type of tear occurs when the knee is pushed to the side from a direct blow to the outside of the knee. Your knee is comprised of two types of collateral ligaments found on the sides of your knee: the medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside, and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside. Both work to manage the sideways movements of your knee. LCL and MCL tears are not as common as other types of tears, and they rarely require surgical treatment. Surgery is only required if your LCL or MCL injury affects other areas in your knee. Ice, bracing and physical therapy are the most effective treatments for collateral ligament tears.
    • Meniscal tears: Meniscal tears often occur during sports or as a result of arthritis or aging. The menisci are two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage between the femur and tibia that support and stabilize your knee joint. Sudden twisting or pivoting motions during contact sports can cause a meniscus to tear. Treatment is dependent on the size and location of the tear.
    • Tendon tears: Tears to the quadriceps and patellar tendons are common in middle-aged individuals involved in sports requiring running or jumping. Tendon injuries can either be partial or complete, and they most often occur from falls or landing incorrectly from a jump. While partial tears typically can be healed with nonsurgical treatments, complete tears require immediate surgery to repair the tendon.

If you’re having knee issues you feel need to be checked out, find an Orthopedic specialist that can help here: http://bit.ly/MSclinics

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