Knee injuries are quite common, and there are a variety of ways the knee can be damaged through regular daily activities. Athletes and other individuals who participate in physical activities are much more likely to suffer from knee injuries. Knee injuries also vary in the degree of seriousness, ranging from a slight sprain to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Other common knee injuries include a torn meniscus. This type of injury can sometimes be remedied without surgery if the tear is minor in degree. One of the most crucial factors to determine when the knee is injured is the severity of the damage, as this will determine what level of treatment is required.
Diagnosing Common Knee Injuries
Doctors often use imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs to determine how severe a particular injury is. When it comes to recovering from knee injuries, the overall physical health of the individual is a major contributing factor. A healthy person not carrying extra weight or burdened by previous injuries will generally heal much more quickly than one who is overweight and suffers from existing conditions that limit mobility.
Prognosis of Common Knee Injuries
Though knee injuries can be quite serious, it is important to note that with proper diagnosis, treatment and physical therapy, a full recovery can usually be expected. Common knee injuries—even less serious ones like a sprained knee, will still require the individual to abstain from physical activity for a month or more.
More serious injuries to the ligaments (MCL or ACL) will typically require surgery and a much longer recovery period during which physical activity will be quite limited. Extensive physical therapy will also be required to regain the mobility of the joint. Although ligament tears are very serious injuries, they do occur quite frequently, especially in athletes. Without surgery, these injuries will usually be the end of one’s athletic career.
Age is a significant factor that contributes to the propensity for common knee injuries. Older folks will have weaker joints from more wear and tear sustained over the years, and generally need to be much more cautious during physical activity to avoid injuries.
The following are the most common causes of knee injuries you should avoid.
Athletes whose sports require repetitive motion like running are at risk for repetitive motion knee injuries. Chronic, repetitive use of the knee joints in similar planes of motion can cause conditions like bursitis, which leads to swelling and pain around the knee.
Abrupt Stopping and Twisting
Movements like sudden stopping from a dead sprint and dynamic twisting of the leg can also lead to knee injuries. When the knees are stretched or twisted from one direction, the ligaments that stabilize the muscles will attempt to pull them back into place. This can cause sprains or even tears of the ligaments. These injuries will vary in degree according to the severity and intensity of the damage sustained.
Grade one knee injuries occur when the ligaments are overstretched but remain intact. Grade two knee injuries involve partially torn fibers, but the ligaments still remain in place. A grade three knee injury is the most serious, as the ligaments have been torn and ruptured completely.
Direct Hits to the Knees
Knee injuries are also commonly caused by direct impact on the knee from an opposing force, such as a hit that would occur during a football game. This type of injury also occurs frequently in sports such as basketball, hockey, and soccer. A particularly hard hit on the knee may cause fractures or dislocations.
Knee injuries occur quite frequently in certain populations like athletes and the physically active. The most crucial aspect of a complete recovery is prompt diagnosis and appropriate medical treatment.
There are also many precautions that at risk populations can take to avoid common knee injuries, such as appropriate strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the knee, and deliberate measure to avoid direct hits to the knee. Of course, this is not possible for some athletes involved in contact sports, so they will always be at a higher risk for serious knee conditions.