Millions of people in the United States face knee pain, which is the second most common type of chronic pain. And once your symptoms set in, it can be difficult to go about your daily life as usual. Thankfully, many of the most common knee injuries are highly treatable. And the sooner you seek needed care, the better off you’ll feel.
Our expert team at Northland Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri, have extensive knowledge and experience treating acute and chronic knee pain caused by a range of injuries and conditions.
Read on to learn about five especially common knee injuries, including symptoms and how we can help.
A sudden, high impact trauma from a spill, sports injury, or car accident is the leading cause of a knee fracture. Given how common these traumas are, it’s not surprising that this type of injury is prevalent as well. If you have weakened bones from osteoporosis, you can fracture your knee through a simple misstep. While you can break any bone in or surrounding your knee, the kneecap, or patella, breaks most often within the joint. Severe pain and swelling around the kneecap, as well as difficulty extending your leg, can be telltale signs.
Your anterior cruciate ligaments, or ACLs, run diagonally across the front of your knees—one across each, respectively. When you tear an ACL, you might hear a loud popping sound, then experience severe knee pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. These injuries are especially common in athletes who engage in contact sports, such as soccer or football. That said, you can tear an ACL during most any activity that involves jumping or quick changes in the motion of the knee.
When you dislocate a knee, your kneecap shifts out of its proper place. While sometimes what’s happened is obvious, because of what looks like a physical deformity, kneecap dislocation can show only pain, swelling, and other signs shared by other common knee injuries. Frequently caused by a sudden change in direction or blow to your knee when your leg is planted on the ground, this injury can also cause stretching or tearing of surrounding tissues.
Each of your knees has pieces of cartilage, or menisci, that provide a sort of cushion between your thigh and calf bones. A meniscus tear is a rupture in this cartilage. Like other common knee injuries, its primary symptoms tend to be pain, swelling, and stiffness. Meniscus tears usually result from a forceful rotation or twist of your knee while you’re putting weight on it. You may also have trouble straightening your knee or feel as though your knee is either locked in place or giving way.
Another knee injury we commonly see in our office is known as patellar tendinitis. This overuse injury is also called jumper’s knee, because it so frequently happens during sports that involve a lot of jumping, like volleyball and basketball. It affects the tendon that works with the muscles at the front of your thigh that allow you to jump, kick, and run. Patellar tendinitis symptoms tend to form gradually, starting with pain between your kneecap and tibia, where the tendon attaches to your shinbone. The pain might crop up only during or after exercise at first, then intensify until it interferes with most any movement.
When you have signs of a knee injury, your provider at Northland Orthopedics & Sports Medicine will conduct an exam to determine the cause and specifics. From there, they’ll create a customized treatment plan. Our specialists often start with the most conservative options. For severe injuries, however, you may require surgery, such as knee arthroscopy. Milder treatments may include:
To learn more about knee injuries or get the care you need, call Northland Orthopedic & Sports Medicine or request an appointment on our website.