By: Dr. Tom Sullivan, Orthopedic Surgeon
Your knee hurts. Because of it, you walk gingerly or even limp. You have trouble bending it and straightening it, and getting out of a chair. Having knee pain is both literally and figuratively, a big pain!
Common Knee Injuries and Conditions
Knee pain can occur for any number of reasons: an injury, like a torn cartilage or ruptured ligament; a medical condition, like arthritis or gout; or overuse, like osteoarthritis or tendinitis. As the largest joint in the body, it is also easily injured. This includes any area of the knee joint, kneecap, fluid-filled sacs, or ligaments and cartilage.
Some of the more common knee injuries include:
- ACL injury – The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that connect the shinbone to the thighbone. ACL injuries, mostly tears, are common in people who play basketball or other sports where sudden changes in direction occur.
- Fractures –The bones of the knee, including the kneecap, can be broken during any type of accident or fall. People who have weak bones due to osteoporosis can fracture their knee simply by stepping wrong.
- Torn meniscus – The meniscus is cartilage that is the shock absorber between the shinbone and thighbone. It can be torn with a sudden twist.
- Knee bursitis – The small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of the knee joint can become inflamed. This causes the tendons and ligaments to “catch” when they move over the joint.
- Patellar tendinitis – Inflammation of one or more of the patellar (kneecap) tendons. Those who jump a lot are more likely to develop this.
- Iliotibial band syndrome – When the band of tissue that runs from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee gets tight and rubs against the outer portion of the femur. This occurs in distance runners a lot.
- Dislocated kneecap – When the triangular bone (patella) that covers the front of your knee slips out of place.
- Hip or foot problems – An altered gait which places extra stress on the knee joint.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome – Also called “runner’s knee.” This is a pain between the patella and the underlying thighbone. It occurs in people who do a lot of repetitive knee bending.
Preventing Knee Injuries
Knee injuries can’t always be avoided, but some lifestyle initiatives and preventative measures can help immensely:
- Maintain a healthy weight – Every extra pound puts added strain on the joints, increasing the risk of injuries and osteoarthritis.
- Be, and stay, in shape – Prepare muscles for the demands of sports participation. Condition. Work with a coach or trainer.
- Get strong, stay flexible. Weak muscles are a leading cause of knee injuries. So build up your quadriceps and hamstrings and stretch before activity.
- Be smart. If you have osteoarthritis, chronic knee pain or recurring injuries, switch to low-impact exercise like swimming or an elliptical machine.
The Doctor Will See You Now
Although some knee pain can be home treated with anti-inflammatories, rest, and ice, you should make an appointment with OSMS when:
- You can’t bear weight on your knee
- Your knee is swollen
- You aren’t able to fully extend or flex your knee
- You have a fever along with knee redness, pain and swelling
- You feel as if your knee is unstable or it feels like it is going to “give out”
No matter where your knee pain lies and what the underlying cause of your knee pain is, OSMS will get you back to the life you love!
Dr. Sullivan is an Orthopedic Surgeon with OSMS and sees patients in Green Bay, Oconto Falls, and Kewaunee.
Read more about blog posts about the knee by clicking here.