The knee is one of the most commonly injured parts of the body. Sports falls and motor vehicle accidents account for the vast majority of knee pain and injuries to the knee.
The different types of common knee injuries to the knee are defined by the affected anatomy of the knee and the mechanism by which it’s injured.
~ Knee sprains are injuries to the ligaments that hold the knee together. Multiple ligaments stabilize the knee and keep it in alignment. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) stabilize the knee in movement from front to back and cross each other in the middle of the knee joint. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) stabilize the knee so that the bones do not slide from side to side.
~ Knee strains occur when tendons or muscles surrounding the knee are stretched, usually due to hyperflexion or hyperextension of the knee. These strains can lead to pain outside of the knee joint but can cause dysfunction of the normal range of motion of the knee.
~ Tears of the meniscus can occur from damage to the inside of the knee. The medial and lateral menisci (plural of meniscus) are semi-round, articular cartilage that acts as shock absorbers and smooth cushions for the thigh bone (femur). These menisci can be injured acutely or gradually become dysfunctional due to overuse and aging.
~ Knee joint dislocation can occur due to high-impact, large-force injuries to the knee (sports, motor vehicle accidents). This is a rare injury but causes severe damage to all the anatomical components of the knee and can include damage to the blood vessels and nerves about the knee. This requires emergency treatment or surgery.
~ Knee fractures occur from direct blows to the bones. Patella, or kneecap, fractures occur when a person falls directly down onto the knees, and the kneecap cracks due to the force. The collapse of the top of the tibia bone in the knee can occur from a sudden compression injury to the knee, especially in people with osteoporosis. Other fractures of the long bones (fibula, tibia, and femur) are rare, with isolated injuries to the knee.
🔷 What causes a Knee Injury?
Most knee injuries are caused by an external force bending or twisting the knee so that it was not anatomically designed for. Common causes of knee injuries are from a twisting mechanism from falls, sports, or accidents. A twisted knee can cause damage to the ligaments and cartilage.
High-force injuries such as sports-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents can disrupt multiple parts of the knee anatomy, causing multiple types of knee injuries.
Bursitis can be caused by overuse, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, injuries from kneeling, infection, or gout.
🔷 What are Knee Injury symptoms and signs?
The symptoms and signs of knee injury are related to the type of injury and the injured part of the knee.
The main symptoms of knee injury are as follows:
• Knee pain
• Difficulty bending the knee
• Problems weight bearing
• Clicking or popping sounds
• Locking of the knee
• Feeling of instability
If the injury is acute, the main symptoms will likely be knee pain and swelling. If the injury is chronic or from overuse, the symptoms of clicking, popping, and intermittent pain will be more prominent.
🔷 What is the medical treatment for a knee injury?
More serious knee injuries require medical care.
Knee immobilization or splinting keeps the knee from moving and decreases the chance of further injury. Immobilizing the knee can help stabilize an injured knee that may not be stable due to torn ligaments, and it also keeps the knee from moving to assist in resting the knee.
Chronic knee injuries involving inflammation and bursitis may be treated with anti-inflammatories. More extensive injuries involving torn ligaments, instability of the knee joint, swelling, decreased range of motion, or fractures will require an orthopedic surgeon consultation. Staying off the leg by using crutches or a wheelchair may be advised.
Surgery may be indicated for tears of the ligaments or extensive meniscal tears. Surgery may also be needed for fractures or dislocations of the knee. Some acute injuries, such as those with high-force impact or multiple parts of the knee damaged, may require emergency surgery.
Most knee surgery can be done by arthroscopy, a procedure in which a camera is used, and small punctures are made in the knee to insert instruments. Repairs can be done inside the knee without opening the knee with a large incision. Most arthroscopic surgeries do not need to be done immediately after an acute injury, and some are delayed to allow for decreased inflammation.
After surgery, or if surgery is not an option, physical therapy can strengthen and stretch the muscles surrounding the knee. Physical therapy can also allow for better leg and knee movement mechanics to help prevent future injury.
To know more about the orthopedic treatments at Bhargava Medical and Trauma Center, book an appointment with Dr. Gaurav Bhargava to get all the essential answers to your queries.