The knees are the some of the body’s hardest working joints. They’re critical in everyday movement. To fully understand your knee and the risks the joint is exposed to, below are quick sections on common injuries and treatments:
Common Symptoms of Injured Knees
When the knee is injured there’s no ignoring the pain. However, some injuries can take some time to fully make itself felt. The longer you put off going to the clinic, the more damage it causes to the knee joint and the surrounding tissue.
You may need to go to the orthopedic doctor if:
- Your knee’s been in pain for 3 days, and is not getting better
- You feel a radiating pain even when you’re off your feet and restingBending your knee feels difficult, and it “pops” when you try to move it
- You have a hard time putting weight on your knee without it “buckling” or giving out
- Your knee shows some bruising or and swelling that won’t go away
- You can pinpoint the source of the knee pain
The knee is a joint made of many moving parts. The source of your knee pain can be traced to damage in one or more parts.
Below are just some of the most common knee injuries that plague many athletes, active individuals, and the elderly.
Types of Knee Injuries: ACL Tears
Basketball, volleyball, and soccer fans will already be familiar with the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. It is the most commonly torn ligament in the knee, and one of the most serious. Yearly some 200,000 people tear their ACL. The average recovery period can take anywhere from 2 to 9 months.
Fortunately, even though ACL tears are severe, we’ve made enough progress in the field of orthopedic surgery to get patients back on their feet. ACL is no longer the career-ender that it used to be for most professional athletes. With the help of physical therapy, most individuals go on to make a full recovery, even going back to their sport.
Types of Knee Injuries: Meniscus Tears
Your meniscus can be found at the intersection of three knees, the femur, the tibia, and the patella. The cartilage stabilizes the knee by acting as a cushion, which also places it at a higher risk for damage.
Torn menisci are generally less grave than ACL tears. In fact, they’re one of the few knee injuries that may heal on its own, if the tear occurs in blood-rich region called the “red zone”. However, patients will need to undergo a meniscectomy to remove the torn menisci if the tear occurs where blood cannot reach. If left inside the knee, the torn cartilage can possibly break off and get lodged in other parts of the knee, causing more damage.
An untreated meniscus tear also puts patients at a higher risk for arthritis.
Types of Knee Injuries: Overuse
Not all knee injuries need surgical intervention. However, when left unchecked or treated incorrectly, minor knee injuries can place stress on surrounding structures, which may eventually lead to a major injury.
There are many minor knee injuries you need to watch out for, especially if you’re an athlete or actively engage in sports for recreation. These are injuries called “overuse injuries”, because they usually arise from improper form, not getting enough rest, and pushing your body too hard during workouts.
A common overuse injury that affects the knee is patellofemoral pain, more commonly known as jumper’s or runner’s knee. This type of sports injury occurs when tissues around the kneecap get damaged from a fall or slip, leading to swelling, pain, and immobility.
The Proper Diet for Strong Knees
Knee pain can be devastating, especially if you’re physically active or a career athlete. Fortunately, there are ways you can reinforce the knee to reduce your risk of getting knee injuries. One of the most important of which is getting proper nutrition.
For athletes, proper form and nutrition go together to prevent injuries. But how can the rest of us protect our knees from wear and tear?
Athlete or not, your knees can benefit from the support of key vitamins and minerals. To keep your knees in peak form well into your senior years, there are certain types of food you may want to add or remove from your diet. For instance, put the salt shaker away. Foods with high salt content have been linked to the onset of osteoarthritis and joint pain.
If your diet is unavoidably high in sodium, you can counteract its effects with anti-inflammatory foods like blueberries, dark green vegetables, fatty fish like anchovies and herring, and olive oil.
Knee Replacement 101
Knee replacement is a surgical procedure often used to treat patients with advanced stages of osteoarthritis, although recent years have seen more people needing knee replacement earlier in their life. An increased interest in sports is partly to blame for the rise.
There are two types of knee replacement you need to know about–total knee replacement (TKR) and partial knee replacement (PKR). Thanks to advancements in surgical robotics and the capability to build better prosthesis, PKR is now a more viable option instead of replacing the whole knee in instances where only one part of the knee is damaged or if the patient is young.
Recovering from Knee Replacement
Patients typically may feel some sort of pain up until 6 months after the surgery. Crutches will be required for the first 6 weeks to help with mobility. Full recovery can take a year, and some patients report taking even longer to get used to the feel of the prosthesis.
Obviously, replacing a joint–even partially–will entail some lifestyle changes. While patients can still go back to working out and some low impact sports with proper rehabilitation, there will be some activities that will be permanently off-limits. Your doctor will probably advise you to not participate in high impact sports, for the sake of your new knee. Pushing your prosthesis to the limit may lead to even worse damage, and land you back on the operating table for revision surgery.
If you have any burning questions left about knee injuries and the surgical options that are available to you, just send us a message or schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Dutton. He is a Harvard Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specialising on complex surgeries of the hips and knees.