Common Knee Injuries

The knee is the largest joint in the body and is composed of four main parts – cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments. The complexities of the knee joint make it especially vulnerable to injury. While some knee injuries can be remedied through non-invasive procedures such as rehabilitation exercise, wearing a knee brace, and applying cold compresses, many knee injuries require surgery.

Knee injuries are common and they can be quite debilitating. Pain and swelling are the most obvious symptoms of a knee injury. You may also begin to notice a feeling of instability, as though your knee can no longer support your body.

Types of Knee Injuries

Fractures: There are several bones around the knee, but the patella is the most commonly broken bone in this area. In addition to the patella, the place where the femur and tibia meet to form the knee joint is also vulnerable. Fractures are most often caused by blunt force trauma, such as car accidents and falls from high places.

Dislocation: Trauma suffered from falls, car accidents, and sports-related injuries can also cause a dislocation of the bones in the knee. People with an abnormality in their knee structure may be more prone to these types of injuries, but dislocation can happen to anyone.

Ligament Injuries: There are several ligaments in the knee – the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the collateral ligaments. These ligament injuries can occur individually or in conjunction with damage to other ligaments and areas of the knee. However, certain risk factors increase an individual’s chance of injuring a certain ligament. For example, the anterior cruciate ligament is most commonly injured during high demand sports activities such as soccer and football. This is because the easiest way to injure the ACL is by quickly changing direction or improperly landing from a jump. The posterior cruciate ligament, on the other hand, is often caused by a blow to the knee while bent. This injury often occurs in car accidents and sports-related activities. PCL tears often heal on their own. The collateral ligaments tear much less frequently than the ACL and PCL. They are also typically the result of blunt force, often from a sports-related injury.

Meniscal Tears: Another knee injury that is commonly sports-related are meniscal tears that often occur when pivoting, twisting, or being tackled. These tears can also be the result of arthritis and aging. If the menisci have weakened with age, simply standing up awkwardly can cause a tear.

Tendon Tears: These tears are most common in middle-aged people and are often the result of a running or jumping injury.

The RICE Method and Medical Treatment

The RICE method can be instrumental in a speedy recovery after a knee injury. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In addition to the RICE method, you should seek medical treatment immediately following a knee injury. This is especially true if you hear a popping noise at the moment of injury, are experiencing severe pain, cannot move your knee, develop a limp, or notice swelling. Medical treatment may include immobilization, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. If the injury is serious, it may require surgery.