Did you know that your knees carry up to six times more pressure than your body weight? That means every time you take a step, your knees are doing a lot of hard work. The knee joints are incredibly strong and built to withstand a lot of pressure and stress. However, you can start to develop knee pain if you have an issue beyond general wear and tear on the body. If you start to notice pain and discomfort when bending or straightening your knee, then you might want to get checked out by your doctor for possible knee injuries. Not every knee injury occurs suddenly, like a dislocation or ligament tear. Some knee injuries can develop gradually with time and repetitive strain on the knee joints. Here is everything you need to know about your knees and the signs and symptoms of 8 types of knee injuries.
Anatomy of the Knee
The knee joint connects three bones: the thighbone, the shin bone, and the kneecap. The end thighbone, or femur, is covered with cartilage that allows it to glide smoothly inside the joint. The shin bone, or tibia, also has cartilage where the bone attaches to the joint. Cartilage also covers the back of the kneecap, or patella, to help the bones in the knee joint glide against one another without causing friction or pain. One piece of cartilage in the knee joint is known as the meniscus, which is a tough and wedge-shaped cartilage between the femur and tibia to help cushion the joint. Ligaments also help connect bones in the knee joint together and provide stability for the knee. Tendons in the knee connect muscles to bones, which helps support proper movement and functioning. The knee joint relies on the bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to function optimally.
8 Common Knee Injuries
An issue with any of the bones or tissues that make up the knee joint can lead to an injury. Here are the knee injury symptoms of 8 common knee injuries.
Tendonitis refers to inflammation that affects tendons in the body. The patellar tendon runs along the front of your kneecap and connects the patella, or kneecap, to the tibia. This condition is sometimes also referred to as jumper’s knee. Tendonitis can develop due to overuse or repetitive movements that put stress on the joint. Patellar tendonitis gets the nickname jumper’s knee because it is a common sports-related injury from activities like jumping on hard surfaces. Tendonitis in the knee can cause pain and tenderness along the front of your knee. You may notice increased pain when you bend or straighten your leg and with common movements like walking, running, or jumping. Patellar tendonitis can also cause swelling and inflammation around the knee joint.
Bursitis is another type of condition in the knee joint that can cause inflammation to part of the knee joint known as bursae. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that provide cushion to the knee joint that helps ligaments and tendons in the knee joint glide smoothly. Bursae also help reduce friction and provide cushion and support for pressure points in the knee. There are many bursae in the knee joint, and when one or more becomes inflamed, it can cause inflammation and irritation in the area. Bursitis can cause redness and swelling around the knee joint. You may also notice the knee becomes warm or tender to the touch.
The bones that make up the knee joint can also become dislocated, where one or more of these bones comes out of place. A sudden impact to the knee, like during a car accident or while playing sports, can lead to a dislocated knee. A slip and fall accident can also lead to a knee dislocation. In some cases, the knee can correct a dislocation on its own with minimal pain and soreness. In other cases, a dislocated knee will require medical intervention to adjust the bones back into place. You may hear a popping sound and experience sudden knee pain with a knee dislocation. Depending on the severity of the dislocation, the injury can cause sudden swelling and impact your ability to straighten or bear weight on the knee joint.
An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is commonly referred to as an ACL tear. The ACL is one of four main ligaments that support the knee joint and connect your shin bone to your thigh bone. ACL tears are common in high-impact sports like basketball and soccer, where players may change directions suddenly. When certain movements overextend or move the ligament in an unnatural direction, the ligament can stretch or tear. If you suffer an ACL tear, you may hear a loud pop and feel sudden and severe pain in your knee. The knee will swell up, and you may not be able to bear weight on the affected knee.
Another type of injury to a ligament in the knee is known as a PCL tear, which affects the posterior cruciate ligament. A PCL tear can impact the stability of the knee joint and prevent you from moving your knee back and forth. A PCL tear is typically considered a severe knee injury because the damage is also likely to affect other ligaments and cartilage in the knee. If you suffer a PCL tear, then you may experience sudden, severe pain and swelling around the knee joint. The back of your knee may feel warm to the touch, and you will have difficulty bearing weight on the affected knee.
The meniscus functions as a shock absorber between the shin bone and thigh bone. A sudden twist to the knee while bearing a lot of weight can lead to a meniscus tear. Symptoms of a meniscus tear can vary depending on the person and the severity of the tear. Common symptoms can include pain along the inside or back of the knee, swelling, and an inability to fully bend or straighten the knee. A meniscus tear will typically cause swelling and can restrict certain movement, so you may not be able to walk without limping. In some cases, a meniscus tear can lead to catching or locking of the knee joint, so you cannot extend or bend the knee at all.
Knee Tendon Tear
Tendons in the knee help connect the muscles and bones that make up the knee joint. A common tendon injury is a knee tendon tear. Tendons can become overstretched from too much activity or stress on the knee. Athletes and middle-aged adults are more likely to overstretch or tear a knee tendon. Symptoms of a knee tendon tear may include a popping sensation, swelling and inflammation, and tenderness and bruising. You may feel like your knee is unstable or the joint gives way when you walk. A knee tendon tear can make it uncomfortable or impossible to fully straighten your knee.
IT Band Syndrome
Pain along the outside of your knee joint can be a sign of IT band syndrome. The iliotibial band refers to a group of thick fibers that runs along the outside of your hips and thighs, through the knee, and to the top of the shin bone. Tightness in the IT band can lead to pain and swelling around the knee, especially along the outside of your legs and just above the joint. The pain of IT band syndrome may feel like an aching or burning sensation. You may notice this area feels tender and warm to the touch. IT band syndrome can also cause redness and swelling along the outside of the knee.
Treatment for Different Types of Knee Pain
If you are experiencing sudden or gradual pain and discomfort, talk to your Conyers orthopaedic doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may use diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays or CT scans to identify the causes of knee pain, which will help inform a personalized plan of treatment for you. Here are examples of the different types of treatment for knee pain.
In some cases, you may be able to manage the pain and other symptoms of a mild knee injury at home. First, you will want to avoid any activities that make your pain worse. Resting the knee will allow time for inflammation and swelling to go down. You can apply ice to your knee to help reduce inflammation and swelling. You may also try wrapping your knee in a compression bandage or brace to provide better support and stability while you heal. Elevate your knee while you sit or sleep with pillows. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help reduce inflammation and pain with a minor knee injury.
An orthopedic doctor can help with a wide variety of knee injuries. You may need to see your Conyers orthopedic doctor to find out what type of injury you are dealing with and how to reduce pain and other symptoms. If you are unable to bear weight on your knee or activities like standing and walking make your pain worse, then an orthopedic doctor can help. They may talk to you about assistive devices while you engage in certain activities or to support the healing process. Some knee injuries may call for steroid injections to help with pain, inflammation, and restricted mobility.
You can also visit a chiropractor for pain from a knee injury. Chiropractors do more than just treat the spine; they actually work with bones, joints, muscles, and all kinds of soft tissues in the body. Chiropractic care involves natural and drug-free approaches to managing and relieving pain. Your Conyers chiropractor will use these natural and non-invasive approaches to address the source of your injury and help promote the body’s natural healing abilities. Chiropractors use a wide range of treatment techniques to help restore healthy alignment to the knee joint and improve the healthy functioning of supportive soft tissues.
A physical therapist can also help you recover from a knee injury. Physical therapy after a knee injury will include a combination of soft tissue mobilization, stretches, and exercises to help you regain your strength and range of motion. A physical therapist will work with you through exercises and other techniques to strengthen leg muscles that support your knee joint for better stabilization. If you suffered a knee injury while playing sports, then your physical therapist can also work with you to improve your technique and reduce your risk of injury. Physical therapy after a knee injury can help you prevent future knee injuries.
In some cases, surgery may be required to fix a knee injury. An orthopedic surgeon will walk you through your options and discuss when conservative treatments may be more appropriate. A torn ligament like an ACL or PCL tear can require surgery to correct the tear. It may be necessary to reconstruct or remove the torn ligament for a serious injury. Major knee injuries can take weeks to months to fully heal and will typically require physical therapy after surgery to support your recovery. The most common type of knee surgery is called arthroscopy, which is used to diagnose and repair many types of knee problems.
Talk to your Conyers doctor at AICA Orthopedics if you have knee pain that is keeping you up at night or limiting your everyday activities. You don’t have to live with knee pain and let it affect your quality of life. Our team at AICA Orthopedics includes orthopedic doctors, surgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists who all work together to provide you with the treatment you need to fully recover from a knee injury. We have state-of-the-art diagnostic tools like CT scans and MRIs in the office, so you can visit your doctor and get the scans you need all in one convenient location. Visit AICA Orthopedics near you in Conyers and get started on treatment for your knee injury so you can experience long-lasting pain relief.