Updated on 2017-02-19 – The knee is a complex joint with numerous components that make it vulnerable to a variety of injuries. Many of these injuries can be treated with bracing and rehab exercises but some are severe enough to require surgery. Over 10 million people on average visit doctor’s offices each year for knee injuries, but there are three of the most common knee injuries in particular that seem to lead the pack.
Most Common Knee Injuries
Dislocations occur when the bones in your knee are out of place, either partially or completely. For example, the patella (kneecap) can slip out of place and the femur and tibia bones can be forced out of alignment. Dislocations can also be the result of an abnormality of your knee.
Dislocations are often caused by falls, high energy trauma, sports-related contact, and vehicle accidents. Any type of knee dislocation will always cause severe pain and there is often immediate swelling. In order to correct the dislocation, your doctor will sedate you and move your bones back into place. You will also be placed in an immobilizing brace and have to use crutches.
After swelling has gone down, you doctor will re-examine your knee to determine what other injuries occurred during the dislocation (some form of soft tissue damage, ligament tear, or even fracture often occurs with a dislocation) and what type of rehab or surgery will be required to get you back on your feet.
The 2nd on the list of most common knee injuries is a fracture. The patella is the most common bone broken around the knee. The ends of the femur and tibia, where they meet to form your knee joint, can also be fractured. Many fractures of the knee are caused by car crashes, falls from significant heights, and sports-related collisions.
Knee fractures are more common in children than in adults. Patients who suffer from a knee fracture often experience severe pain in and around the fracture site, swelling, a deformed appearance of the knee, tenderness, and difficulty moving the leg. An immobilizing brace and crutches are almost always prescribed along with plenty of rest and ice. The severity of the fracture and where it occurred will help your doctor determine whether or not surgery is required.
Sprains and Soft Tissue Tears
ACL (sprains and tears) and meniscus tears are two of the most common forms of soft tissue injuries doctors see in patients complaining of knee problems. ACL injuries often occur as the result of a sports activity. Changing direction rapidly or landing awkwardly after a jump in sports such as football, soccer, and basketball can result in an injury of the ACL. At least half of the ACL injuries reported occur with damage done to other soft tissue in the knee – like the meniscus.
The meniscus acts as a cushion for your knee joint and can become torn as the result of pivoting, twisting, cutting, or being hit – just like an ACL injury; this is why they are often seen occurring together. When the meniscus is injured, people usually only feel a moderate amount of pain and have difficulty straightening the knee. ACL injuries (sprains or tears) don’t always cause pain but they are immediately disabling. You may hear a popping sound when this injury occurs.
MRIs are used to determine the severity of the sprain or tear of an ACL or meniscus. Surgery is always required to repair a torn ACL and an intense rehab program is needed after healing in both sprains and tears. Meniscal injuries are treated more conservatively and if the tear is minor only rehab will be required.
Until next time!
Updated on 2017-02-19 – Included additional images as a visual aid in learning more about the different knee injuries and external links to more information.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to provide medical advice. The information presented above on the most common knee injuries was posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.
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