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Common Knee Injuries: Symptoms & Prevention

Common Knee Injuries: Symptoms & Prevention

Apria Editorial |

It is possible to use corrective measures such as exercises, braces, and heat treatments to rehabilitate a knee injury; however, surgery may be necessary in severe cases. In this guide, we will explore common knee injuries such as fractures, dislocations, ligament injuries, meniscus tears & knee tendon tears. Learn more about the anatomy, diagnosis, and prevention of knee injuries.

Approximately 3.5 million sports-related injuries are recorded annually, with the knee being the most prevalent area of injury. The knee is where the thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), fibula (outer tibia), and kneecap (patella) meet. In terms of size and complexity, the knee is the body's most remarkable multifaceted joint and is prone to a wide range of injuries. Sprains, torn ligaments, broken bones, and dislocations are all frequent forms of knee injury that can become more serious over time if not treated.

It is possible to use corrective measures such as exercises, braces, and heat treatments to rehabilitate a knee injury; however, surgery may be necessary in severe cases. In this guide, we will explore common knee injuries such as fractures, dislocations, ligament injuries, meniscus tears and knee tendon tears. Keep reading to learn more about the anatomy, diagnosis, and prevention of knee injuries.

Anatomy Of The Knee

The knee is one of the most common places for people to sustain injuries because it is the biggest joint in the body. The major components that make up the anatomy of the knee are bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

Bones:

The knee is the point where the shinbone (tibia), the thighbone (femur), and the kneecap (patella) connect. The kneecap (patella) acts as a shield at the front of the joint.

Joint Capsule:

The knee is enclosed by a bag-like membrane called the joint capsule. The space is filled with a lubricating and nutrient-rich liquid called synovial fluid.

Bursa:

About 14 of these cysts filled with fluid can be found in the knee joint itself. They keep the knee from inflaming by reducing the amount of contact between the tissues.

Articular Cartilage:

Covers the femoral and tibial ends as well as the rear of the patella. This smooth material substance between your knee bones facilitates the movement of bending and straightening your leg.

Meniscus:

Your femur and tibia are separated by two sections of meniscal cartilage, which act as shock absorbers. The meniscus is a strong, flexible structure that helps cushion and stabilizes the joint, making it different from articular cartilage.

Ligaments:

Ligaments link bones to one another. The four primary ligaments in a human knee function similarly to strong ropes, securing the thighbone to the shinbone and preventing the knee from dislocating.

Collateral Ligaments:

These are located on the outer regions of both knees. The medial collateral ligament is found along the inside of the knee, while the lateral collateral ligament runs along the outside. These support the knee joint and limit movement that would harm the joint.

Cruciate Ligaments:

The ligaments in the center of the knee. These can be found inside the knee itself. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) meet in the middle to create an X. The cruciate ligaments limit abnormal ranges of forward and backward knee movement.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL):

The ligament that keeps the inside knee stable.

Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL):

The ligament that helps keep the knee's exterior in place.

What Are The Most Common Knee Injuries?

The most common knee injuries include fractures, dislocations, and sprains/tears of soft tissues like ligaments. Many injuries affect more than one part of the knee. Indications of a knee injury are typically pain and swelling, a feeling of the knee catching, locking, or popping. In addition, most patients report the knee feels like it will give way while walking. The following are the most common knee injuries and symptoms.

  1. Knee Fracture

Falls from great heights and car accidents are two common examples of high-energy trauma that may induce fractures around the knee. The patella is the most often fractured structure in the knee, followed by the femur or tibia, which can fracture at the point where the two bones meet.

  1. Knee Dislocation

When the bones in the knee become completely or partly displaced from their normal positions, this is known as a dislocation. The patella can dislocate and is sometimes visible from the outside; another common type of dislocation occurs when the tibia and femur are twisted. Dislocations can be caused by irregularities in the structural makeup of the knee. Knee dislocations in otherwise healthy persons are often brought on by impact trauma like falls, car accidents, or sports-related contact.

  1. Meniscus Tear

Meniscus tears are a common knee injury that occurs while the foot is in place and the knee is bent, causing the upper leg to twist or bend in an exerted fashion. A discoid meniscus forms a disc shape within the knee. Discoid meniscus increases the risk of a tear injury and often appears during childhood. People often think meniscus tears will heal on their own with time. However, there are several ways for the meniscus to tear, some of which require special medical attention and sometimes surgery.

  1. Knee Ligament Injury

Some cruciate ligament injuries do not cause any discomfort. Instead, it is more likely that the patient will hear a popping sound when the injury occurs, then feel the affected leg buckle under them as they attempt to stand on it, and finally develop inflammation. Symptoms may, however, vary from person to person.

Other knee ligament injury symptoms include:

  1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament

ACL injuries are more common among skiers, basketball players, and football players than in any other sport. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are relatively common. When the knee is suddenly twisted, with the feet remaining in place, the ACL can be strained or torn.

  1. Posterior Cruciate Ligament

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the second most commonly damaged knee ligament. However, this is usually sustained with sudden contact, for example, in a vehicle collision or a football tackle.

  1. Collateral Ligament Injuries

With collateral ligament injuries, the knee will collapse and pop, similar to a cruciate ligament injury. Injuries that occur to the medial collateral ligament are far more common than lateral ones because the outside of the knee is more vulnerable to stretch and tear injuries through contact.

  1. Knee Tendon Tear

Patients often experience a tearing or popping sound with knee tendon injuries. Pain, swelling, and the inability to straighten the knee fully are common symptoms, often accompanied by an indentation below the kneecap. There is a limit to the tendon damage the body can recover from on its own, even with rehabilitation exercises. Surgical repair of the patellar tendon will be necessary in the case of a severe tear.

What Are The Most Common Symptoms Of Knee Injuries?

Knee pain and discomfort are more common types of knee injury among runners and athletes who participate in sports that require jumping or fast rotation. Knee discomfort, whether from age or an accident, may be uncomfortable and even debilitating. The quicker symptoms are identified and treated, the better chances of regaining a full range of motion. Knee pain may be felt in different locations and at different intensities, depending on the underlying problem. Knee injury symptoms include:

  • Pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • The appearance of redness and warmth upon contact
  • Weakness, loss of balance
  • Audible snapping or crunching sound
  • Restriction of complete knee extension
  • The sensation of the knee giving way

Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to put any pressure on the knee, knee feels unstable, or knee gives way
  • Significant swelling in the knees
  • Inability to bend or flex the knee
  • Noticeable leg or knee deformity
  • Heat, redness, discomfort, and swelling in the knee
  • Experiencing excruciating injury-related knee discomfort

How Are Knee Injuries Diagnosed?

Most cases of adult knee discomfort may be traced back to the wear and tear experienced by the knee joints during regular activities such as walking, bending, standing, and lifting. Sometimes impact-related injuries can cause a lot of damage beneath the surface, causing complications like arthritis and osteoarthritis to develop over time. However, with proper diagnoses and treatment, a corrective course of treatment can follow.

The following procedures are used to diagnose injuries to the knee.

  • X-ray: With this diagnostic procedure, internal organs, bones, and tissues are photographed onto film using invisible electromagnetic frequencies.
  • CT Scan: Computed tomography creates horizontal pictures - sometimes referred to as "slices” of the body. These are generated by x-rays and computer technologies and allow medical professionals to examine the bones, muscles, fat, and internal structures clearly. When compared to regular x-rays, CT scans provide more information.
  • Radionuclide Bone Scan: An imaging technique using radioactive material that is injected into a patient and then detected using a scanner. This helps monitor blood flow and bone cell activity.
  • MRI: To create high-resolution pictures of internal organs and structures, this procedure combines powerful magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer processor. The results of this test are typically helpful in diagnosing abnormalities in surrounding ligaments and muscles.

How To Prevent Knee Injuries?

Knee injuries are inconvenient as they prevent you from working or participating in normal activities. However, regardless of their degree of physical activity, everyone will benefit from understanding the following advice for preventing knee injuries.

  • Maintain A Healthy Weight: Avoid putting excess strain on the knee. This can cause degenerative conditions like osteoporosis or increase the risk of injury.
  • Wear The Right Shoes: Whether you're on your feet all day at work or participating in high-impact sports, the appropriate footwear will help.
  • Supplement With Low-impact Exercises: Include more low-impact exercises such as swimming and cycling into a routine on certain days to reduce the sudden impact on the knees.
  • Weight Training: Leg and knee injuries may be prevented or minimized by regularly engaging in weight training or resistance exercises.
  • Stretching: It's important to warm up with some stretches before beginning any physical exercise, whether for professional sports training or recreation. Focus on strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves with regular stretching.
  • Focus On Technique: To build stronger leg muscles and prevent injury, it is essential to employ correct technique and posture while stretching and lifting weights.
  • Wear Knee Support: Prevent injury caused by falling or high-impact sports by wearing knee braces and pads. These support the knee, prevent bruising and abrasions, and restore weight-bearing capacity and mobility to the knee in the case of the previous injury.
  • Know Your Limits When Training: Refrain from over-exerting yourself; train according to your fitness level and athletic ability to avoid putting unnecessary impact on the knees.

Knee Injuries FAQ

How do you know if you tore your knee ligament?

A torn ligament is indicated by swelling and stiffness around the knee. The swelling and instability of an injured knee often make weight-bearing very uncomfortable. The knee will also feel unstable like it is about to give way.

  • When an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is torn, the knee often gives a "popping" sensation.
  • With a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, the discomfort will be located inside the knee.
  • With a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury, the discomfort will be located outside the knee.

Can you still walk with a torn ligament in your knee?

With a damaged knee ligament, the injured patient can usually still walk. However, mobility will be significantly restricted, if not painful. Surgery may be the most effective course of treatment, but in most cases, mobility support such as braces or crutches is recommended.

How do you know if a knee injury is serious?

All knee injuries should be considered serious to some degree, as they carry the potential to become very degenerative over time. However, immediate medical attention should be sought if there is a particularly loud and painful popping sensation, severe swelling and bruising, inability to walk, or severe pain.

How long does a knee injury take to heal?

A moderate knee sprain can recover within 6 weeks, but a serious sprain can take months. Therefore, follow-up care and corrective therapy are essential to attaining a full recovery.

The ApriaHome Knee Injury Care Kit

While consulting a medical professional and physical therapy are the best course of action when it comes to an injured knee joint, there are a few supportive and corrective measures you can take for knee problems at home.

For knee support:

For cold compression or heat therapy, useful in the treatment of inflammation:

For direct pain relief & management:

For mobility assistance:

Hospital-Grade Home Treatment Solutions

ApriaHome is passionate about providing unparalleled national support and convenience by providing premium quality medical equipment and treatment solutions, all from the convenience of our online platform. We are distinguished by our excellent clinical standards and compassion toward our patients. Each day, we aim to go above and beyond the expectations of the patients, families, and medical professionals we serve. As one of the biggest American suppliers of home healthcare services in the country, we take our responsibility very seriously.

Take back your health and well-being today. Don't let your injured knee hold you back or go untreated! We offer a wide range of hospital-grade mobility aids and home care solutions for the treatment of different types of knee injuries and symptoms.

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