The knee is the body’s largest joint, as well as one of the most commonly injured. Your knee joint is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that work together to allow you to bend your leg. The knee is prone to a variety of injuries due to all of its moving parts and the delicate nature of the joint.
If you’re having knee pain, you’re probably dealing with one of the most common knee injuries. We’ll teach you about the anatomy of the knee and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a knee injury. However, only your orthopedic doctor can tell you what kind of injury you have.
Anatomy of the Knee
The femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (knee cap) are the three bones that make up the knee joint (kneecap). The knee joint is formed when these three bones come together. The ends of the femur and tibia, as well as the back of the patella, are covered in articular cartilage. As you bend or straighten your leg, the cartilage allows the bones of the knee joint to glide smoothly against one another. The meniscus is wedge-shaped cartilage between your femur and tibia that is tough and rubbery. Between the femur and tibia bones, the meniscus cartilage cushions the joint and acts as a shock absorber.
The knee joint is stabilized by four ligaments that connect the bones together. On the inside of the knee, the medial collateral ligament is located, while the lateral ligament is located on the outside. These ligaments stabilize and protect your knee joint as it moves sideways. They also control and control any unusual movement that may occur. The cruciate ligaments are found within the knee joint and form an “X” shape when they cross over each other. The anterior cruciate ligament is located in front of the knee joint, while the posterior cruciate ligament is behind it. The back and forth motion of the knee is controlled by these ligaments.
Tendons connect the muscles to the bones in your knee. The quadriceps tendon connects the quadriceps muscles to the patella and is located in the front of the thigh. Your patella is connected to your shinbone by the patellar tendon.
Because the knee is made up of several different parts, there are many different types of knee injuries that can occur. More than one knee structure may be affected and injured in some cases. The most common types of injuries are listed below.
1. Knee Fracture
The patella, or knee cap, protects your knee joints from further damage or injury. When you fall or collide with something or someone, your kneecap makes the first contact and protects the various parts of your knee joint. As a result, the kneecap is prone to fractures.
Knee fractures are common, but they can be deadly. To allow the bone to heal, the knee must be immobilized, or surgery may be required.
2. Knee Dislocation
When the knee bones come out of place, it is called a dislocation. A large impact to the knee, such as a fall, a collision, or a car accident, can cause this.
The knee will correct itself in some situations. It will be a little sore at first, but it will function normally after that. If this does not occur, the only way to recover from a dislocation is to reposition the knee bones. In a quick, fluid motion, a doctor will strategically adjust the bones back into place.
3. Knee Ligament Injury
Ligament injuries are a common occurrence in sports. They happen when the knee is overextended or moved in an abnormal way, and the ligaments are unable to support the movement. Because the ligaments are responsible for keeping the knee in place, if they are overworked, they will be unable to do their job and will stretch or tear.
The cruciate ligaments that make up the X – the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) – are the most commonly injured ligaments (PCL). The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are two of the most commonly injured ligaments.
Ligament injuries are extremely common, but the severity of the injury varies greatly.
- Grade I: The fibers of a Grade I ligament injury have been slightly overstretched, resulting in a ligament sprain. There won’t be much bruising, if any, and only minor swelling. An MCL sprain is an example of this type of injury.
- Grade II: When ligament fibers are partially torn but not completely torn, this is known as a partial tear. There will be more pain and joint restriction, as well as more bruising and swelling, than with Grade I.
- Grade III: When a ligament is completely torn, a Grade III injury occurs, causing severe pain at first. The knee and the surrounding area will be swollen and bruised. An LCL tear is an example of this type of injury.
4. Meniscus Tear
Meniscus tears are common in sports that require jumping or twisting, such as volleyball. Meniscus tears are also common in sports where athletes change direction quickly while running, such as football or soccer. A torn meniscus can be caused by any type of knee twisting, cutting, or pivoting. The meniscus can also tear over time due to wear and tear.
5. Knee Tendon Tear
Tendon tears can affect anyone, but they are more common in middle-aged people who run, jump or participate in other activities. Because the tendon is unable to support the overextension, landing awkwardly after a jump is a common way to injure it.
Because of the direct force to the front of the knee, falls can also cause a stretched tendon.
Knee Injury Signs and Symptoms
Knee pain and swelling are two telltale signs of a knee injury. You might also have trouble moving the joint. When you bend and straighten your leg, it might feel stiff, lock up, or catch.
It definitely causes concern if you hear your knee pop and then give out at the time of impact. It’s possible that the popping sound is the sound of something tearing. Because your ligaments are unstable after a knee injury, you may feel like you can’t stand firmly on your leg. Your knee may feel as if it’s giving way.
Knee Injury Treatment
If your knee pain is minor, it’s possible you didn’t injure it and it’s just overworked. The RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method is commonly used to treat this type of pain. You can avoid going to the doctor if this method works for you and you feel better.
It’s critical to see your doctor if you’re experiencing a lot of pain, swelling, bruising, or instability. Neglecting the problem could aggravate it, resulting in a tear from a minor sprain.
Stabilizing the knee is one of the first steps in treating a knee injury. A brace will most likely be recommended by your doctor to prevent your knee joint from moving. Bone fractures will be able to heal properly as a result of this. Crutches may be prescribed to keep you from putting weight on your injured leg.
Physical therapy will consist of a series of stretches and exercises to help you regain function in your knee joint over the course of several weeks. The exercises will also strengthen the muscles that surround the joint.
When physical therapy and other methods have failed to fully restore your knee’s function, you may need surgery to treat your knee injury. Some injuries, such as a completely torn ligament, cannot heal on their own and must be operated on. Many knee surgeries can be done arthroscopically with small incisions and with minimally invasive tools. In some cases, your surgeon will need to repair the injury with a larger incision.