Every year over five million people visit orthopedic surgeons for knee-related injuries and problems that fall into one (or more) of the following four categories:
The femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone) and patella (kneecap), come together to form the knee joint. The patella bone is the most likely to fracture, especially during a motor vehicle accident, fall, or high-impact collision. Pain, swelling, and bruising typically occur immediately after a fracture. Treatment should be sought out as soon as possible.
The knee bones are held together by four strong ligaments.
- The cruciate ligaments are found on the inside of the knee joint. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) control back and forth motions.
- The collateral ligaments are located on the sides of the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) stabilize the knee and control side to side motion.
ACL injuries typically occur during athletic activities, specifically those that require quick cutting, running, and jumping movements (i.e. football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics).
PCL injuries occur when a direct blow is delivered to the knee, usually during a motor vehicle accident or sports collision.
Collateral ligament injuries are contact injuries that occur when the knee is pushed sideways, usually during athletic activities.
The menisci are two pieces of cartilage that sit between the tibia and femur. They serve as “shock absorbers” – reducing the load placed directly on the bones during walking, running, and jumping. A meniscus tear occurs when a piece of the meniscal cartilage tears due to an abnormal movement (usually during athletics) or aging process, most commonly osteoarthritis.
The quadriceps tendon attaches the quadriceps muscle to the patella. The patella tendon attaches the patella to the shin bone. Both may be stretched or torn when a patient lands on their feet after a high jump or fall.
Non-Surgical Treatment of Knee Injuries
The most common non-surgical treatment options for knee injuries include any, all, or any combination of the following:
- RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation help control pain and swelling immediately after an injury.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – When taken as directed, NSAIDs decrease inflammation and help with pain.
- Physical therapy – Exercises help stretch and strengthen the knee.
- Bracing – A brace can be worn to immobilize the knee joint while an injury heals.
- Corticosteroid injections – Anti-inflammatory medications may be injected into the knee joint.
Knee injuries that do not respond to non-surgical treatment may require surgical intervention.
Surgical Treatment of Knee Injuries
An open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) procedure may be used to treat patella fractures. During the procedure, the fractured bone is reduced and then put back together using small screws.
Several arthroscopic and open procedures may be performed to treat ligament, meniscus, and tendon tears.
The injuries outlined in this post require medical attention. If you have sustained one and are ready to make an appointment, please contact our office.