Knee injuries are one of the most commonly sustained injuries among athletes and can be the most debilitating. The knee joint contains four bones, multiple ligaments, tendons and muscles which are crucial for proper functioning. Most athletes who experience a knee injury are able to completely recover and return to full functioning. However, if the injury goes untreated, even for a number of days, the odds of a full recovery lessens. Thus it is important to seek immediate medical attention whenever a knee injury occurs.
Athletes are especially susceptible to a knee injury due to their sudden fast movements and potential for overuse of the knee. There are a couple of different injuries that the knee can experience, each having different severity, treatment, and recovery potential. Here are some of the top knee injuries among athletes:
The meniscus is a pad of rubbery cartilage in the knee that cushions the shinbone from the thigh bone. The meniscus can be torn by forceful twisting of the knee when the leg is planted. Symptoms of a meniscus tear include a popping sensation, swelling, and occasionally locking of the knee. Acute meniscus tears rarely heal without surgical intervention.
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) attaches the shin bone to the inner surface of the thigh bone, keeping the shin bone from sliding side-to-side. The MCL is usually torn by a forced knocked-knee position which pushes the knee inward. Symptoms of a meniscus tear include a popping feeling, swelling, bruising, and tenderness inside of the knee. MCL tears can usually be treated without surgical intervention using a knee brace and physical therapy to return to normal functioning.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) attaches the shin bone to the thigh bone, keeping the shin bone from sliding forward. The ACL is usually torn due to quick changes in direction resulting in excessive pivoting of the knee. When an ACL injury is sustained, athletes usually report a popping noise, significant swelling in the joint, and inability to continue playing their sport. ACL injuries almost always require surgical reconstruction and physical therapy to allow for a full recovery.
These injuries are not only common among athletes, but anyone engaging in physical activity has the potential to injure their knee. Thus it is important to build knee stability and engage in prevention measures so that you can avoid any future injuries. If you have suffered from an injury at the knee joint or want to know more about how to avoid these injuries, contact Dr. Mithoefer for a consultation today!
Dr. Kai Mithoefer is board certified in both Orthopedic surgery and Orthopedic sports medicine and is a fellowship trained shoulder specialist. Dr. Mithoefer is an internationally recognized specialist for complex shoulder and knee injuries with over 15 years of experience with the treatment of work related injuries. Dr. Mithoefer has published more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters and is a frequent speaker at national and international orthopedic meetings.