Your knees are the largest joints in your body, yet are the most easily injured. They are made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons, and this complex structure, coupled with the fact that they carry your full body weight every day, makes injured knees a common complaint in Orthopaedics. They also have to absorb the extra force they experience every time you run or jump, so it’s not surprising that knee injuries are among the most common reasons people see their doctors.
Common Knee Injuries
In many cases, knee problems occur as a result of an injury to more than one structure in the knee. The most common knee injuries are dislocation, sprains and tears, and fractures.
The patella (or kneecap) is the most commonly broken bone in the knee, although the ends of the tibia and femur can also be fractured at the place where they meet to join the knee. Most knee fractures are caused by high-energy trauma – such as car or motorcycle accidents, or falls from significant heights – but sometimes, people with severe osteoporosis can fracture their knee simply by stepping awkwardly.
This occurs when the bones of the knee move out of place. This can be caused by a physical abnormality in the knee, or as a result of a trauma, such as a fall, vehicle accident or sports-related contact.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
Your ACL is one of the four ligaments connecting your tibia (shin) to your femur (thigh) and it is often injured during sport. It’s particularly common in people who play football, rugby, squash and other sports that involve frequent changes in direction.
Your meniscuses are two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage that act as a kind of shock absorber between your tibia and femur. A meniscus tear can happen from twisting or pivoting sharply, or simply as a result of old age or arthritis. When people talk about having a “torn cartilage,” they are often referring to a torn meniscus.
There are numerous other knee injuries, which could include patella tendonitis, Iliotibial band syndrome, Osgood-Schlatters Syndrome, and various forms of arthritis.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor or knee specialist:
- Unable to put any weight on your knee
- Unable to flex or extend your knee fully
- Redness, pain and swelling
- A feeling of instability
- Audible, painful “clicking”
Knee Pain Treatment
Injured knees can successfully be treated without the need for corrective surgery. Depending on the injury, simple measures, such as rehabilitation exercises and strapping or bracing, can be enough to ensure a full recovery. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, can help to reduce pain and swelling.
When To See A Knee Specialist
In some cases, your general practitioner will refer you to a knee specialist, or orthopaedic surgeon, who can use a variety of minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures to help them see exactly what’s going on inside your knee. This means they can accurately diagnose and treat knee problems without having to resort to exploratory surgery. Corrective surgery may, however, be necessary, if physical therapy and medication don’t bring relief.
At Health in Motion, we specialise in sports injuries and trauma orthopaedics. Dr Baba is our specialist orthopaedic surgeon and is intensely focused and passionate about the care and treatment of his patients. We have three areas of operation, conveniently located in Ballito, Gateway and Umhlanga.
If you have a knee injury you would like him to assess, call us today to make an appointment.