Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Common Knee Injuries

1312-knee-painThe knee is a complex hinge joint made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. It connects the bones of our upper and lower leg. It’s the largest joint in the body. Knee replacement surgery has become almost routine as baby boomers and even people a decade or younger find that they can no longer maintain their quality of life because of their knee pain and stiffness.

Often this pain is caused by earlier injuries. The two most common types of knee injuries seen by Florida orthopedic specialists and sports medicine physicians are those involving the cartilage and ligaments.

Cartilage Injuries

Two types of cartilage line the knee joint: articular and meniscus. While the articular cartilage lines the knee bones, the meniscus provides a second layer that helps cushion the knee bones. Meniscus tears can result either when the knee is twisted (particularly while the foot is straight) or struck. They can also be caused by long-term wear and tear, often resulting in arthritis.

In addition to being painful, meniscus tears can cause swelling, instability and difficulty walking or straightening the knee. The knee may lock up. If you have these symptoms, you may have a meniscus tear. However, it should be seen by an orthopedic specialist who can confirm the injury with diagnostic tools such as x-rays or an MRI.

The most common treatments include what’s known in the orthopedic sports medicine field as PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation), a knee brace, exercise and/or physical therapy. Sometimes surgery is required to repair the tear.

Ligament Injuries

The knee contains two pairs of ligaments that support the knee joint and provide stability. The anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments control the backward and forward movement of the knee. The lateral and medial collateral ligaments control sideways movements.

These are the most common sports-related knee injuries. As with knee cartilage, ligaments are most often injured when the knee is twisted or hit, causing one of the ligaments to overstretch, tear or rupture. The ligaments most frequently injured are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Someone who has injured the ACL will experience pain, swelling, and perhaps, a popping of the knee. The knee will feel unstable. ACL injuries are generally treated through physical therapy and exercise. Sometimes surgery is required to repair the ligament.

MCL tears are also caused by the knee being twisted or struck. Football players and skiers are susceptible to this type of injury. People with a torn MCL will feel the pain in their inner knee. They’ll likely also have difficulty bending it and feel unstable on it. Swelling is another common symptom. Again, it’s best to see an orthopedic specialist to get a confirmed diagnosis and proper treatment. Physicians usually recommend PRICE, and specific exercises. They sometimes recommend a knee brace. If the tear doesn’t heal, surgery may be warranted.

Knee sprains are another common ligament injury. They can occur when any of the knee ligaments is overstretched, causing the fibers in the ligament to tear. The causes are the same as with other ligament injuries. The symptoms include pain, swelling, difficulty straightening and bending the knee and instability. Orthopedic physicians usually recommend PRICE as well as exercises and possibly a knee brace.

If you have suffered an injury to your knee and are experiencing these symptoms, it’s essential that you don’t let the problem go on for too long. That may just make the situation worse, cause serious damage and lengthen your healing time. If ruptures and tears of knee cartilage and ligaments do not receive proper treatment, they may require surgery to heal.

If you have suffered a knee injury or are having knee problems that are causing pain and inhibiting your mobility, contact the Jacksonville orthopedic physicians at Southeast Orthopedic Specialists. We use cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat knee injuries to help our patients get back to their fullest potential.

Frank Collier – Pain Management Specialist | SouthEast Orthopedic Specialist

Frank Collier, MD

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Pain Management Specialist

Dr. Frank Collier is a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician and Pain Management Specialist who specializes in the treatment of injuries and illnesses that affect how people move and function while living with pain.



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