Knee injuries are one of the most ubiquitous and common injuries seen by doctors and lead to over 10 million medical visits per year. The complexity of the knee means that many different issues could be the cause for concern and the treatment processes will vary. Some knee injuries are slight and can be rectified with specific actions, but some are more serious and demand surgical intervention. The knee is a complex joint that enables a body to move in many different ways properly. Sitting, walking, squatting, jumping and running are all acts that rely heavily on the ability and health of the knee.
The four integral parts that the knee is comprised of bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. The femur, which is the biggest bone in the body, sits atop of the knee joint. The tibia, which is the shinbone connects at the bottom of the knee joint. The cartilage is tissue that adequately cushions the bones from the joint of the knee and easily allows necessary movement while protecting the bones from grinding or unnecessary impact. The four ligaments in the knee are just like ropes that stabilize and hold the bones together. Finding orthotic aids that support injured knees is strongly encouraged.
Common knee injuries:
Fractures – any of the bones within or around the knee can suffer a fracture. The bone that is most often affected by fractures is the kneecap. Car accidents and falls are typically what can lead to fractures. Any high impact trauma is what normally causes these type of injuries. Individuals who suffer from osteoporosis, which primarily goes undetected until an injury happens, are more susceptible to suffering from a fracture by something small such as tripping or stepping the wrong way.
ACL – otherwise known as an anterior cruciate ligament injury, is something typically suffered from by athletes. High contact sports such as football or soccer can often lead to these type of injuries. However, some basketball players have suffered from them because of the amount of jumping and springing they often do. This ligament runs down the front part of the knee and provides critical stabilization of the joint itself. Quite often this type of injury does require surgery, and its level of seriousness is rated on a scale of 1 to 3. 1 is considered a mild damage to the joint while a grade 3 is a complete and total tear.
Dislocation – when the bones of the knee come out of alignment or no longer exist in proper placement, it can be incredibly painful. If one or more of the bones happens to slip out of place this type of injury can occur. While a structural abnormality can cause a dislocation, it is typically the result of some blunt force trauma, including contact sports, car accidents or falls.
Meniscal tears- torn cartilage in the knee is officially referred to as a meniscal tear. Two small rubbery pieces of cartilage exist between the bones and joints that provide a necessary bit of cushion on the knee. These little pieces of cartilage can rip or tear during strenuous activities, notably during sports. They can sometimes also tear very slowly due to old age. A sudden tear can sometimes lead to a popping sound that can be heard or felt in your knee. This type of injury often gets worse over hours or days if it isn’t adequately treated right away.
Bursitis – this occurs when little fluid-filled sacs, or cysts, gather around the ligaments and tendons. Sometimes these sacs can become inflamed or swell because of constant and continual kneeling. This is one of the less severe injuries that a knee can sustain. At home self-care for this injury can provide relief. Depending on the severity, and if other methods don’t seem to be helpful, aspiration treatment, which drains the fluid via a needle also works well.
Tendonitis – this is caused by a specific inflammation in the knee referred to as patellar tendinitis. This is sometimes referred to as jumper’s knee, which is common amongst athletes and physically active individuals. Typically hot and cold compresses can be used to reduce the inflammation and lessen the strain and jarring that the knee goes through when the individual runs or jumps.