Sports injuries are a serious concern for today’s athletes. While careful engagement in athletic activity can prevent injuries, accidents still happen. No one wants to lose the opportunity to play a favorite sport or contribute to their team, so many athletes take extensive steps to educate and physically prepare themselves. The right information can make all the difference: in a stressful situation, an athlete prepared with the appropriate knowledge of sports medicine can act quickly to avoid or mitigate the consequences of an injury. That knowledge begins with understanding the most common conditions sustained by athletes and treated by sports medicine experts.
The knee is one of the most common areas of the body that is injured as you use your knees in almost every sport and with everyday activities. From soccer, where you are only allowed to use your lower part of your body, to volleyball where you make short, quick stops and turns, your knees take a lot of abuse and can restrict your athletic capability in both the short and the long term when injured. To understand a bit more about knee injuries, let us first take a look at the structure of the knee.
The knee consists of four bones and three main joints: the patellofemoral, which is the contact of the kneecap to the end of the femur; the tibiofemoral joint between the end of the femur and the top of the tibia; and the joint connecting the tibia to the top of the fibula.
Though our knees degenerate as we age leading to pain, knee pain is also caused by overuse from running and endurance sports as well as being caused by trauma where direct impact or excessive force causes damage to the ligaments, cartilage and bone.
Common sports injuries of the knee include:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL): The ACL is an internal ligament in your knee that attaches the tibia to the femur, and when this is torn the knee becomes unstable or loose
- Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligaments (MCL/LCL): The MCL and LCL are internal ligaments that attach the femur to the tibia and are often injured in contact sports
- Meniscus Tear: The meniscus is a structure in your knee made of cartilage that wraps around the knee joint and supports it. When the meniscus is torn, there’s often pain and sensation of locking, catching or giving way. There are two menisci in the knee, the medial and lateral menisci
- Tendinitis and Bursitis: Caused by inflammation of the structures about the knee. Examples include:
- Pes Anserine Bursitis: causes pain on the inside of your knee
- Patellar Tendinitis or Prepatellar Bursitis: causes pain and sometimes swelling of the front of your knee
- Fractures: Fractures of the knee are not very common but are often debilitating. The kneecap is commonly fractured from a direct impact and the surface of the tibia is prone to injury from forces usually in the lateral direction.
So how do you know if you injured your knee?
If you are feeling pain in your knee or have any of the following symptoms with regards to you knee, you should have yourself evaluated by AOSMI’s Sports Medicine Specialists. Knee injury symptoms include:
- Warmth or redness
- Instability or limping or unable to walk/put weight on the knee
- Inability to fully straighten the knee
- “Locking” or “popping” of the knee
Many conservative treatments are now available for sports knee injuries and most knee problems respond well to conservative treatment. At AOSMI, our Sports Medicine Specialists offer many different conservative treatment options including:
- Medication: anti-inflammatories or supplements
- Physical Therapy: used for rehabilitation of knee problems and to return you to normal activities. Strengthening programs are also available to prevent future injury and increase sports performance
- Bracing: often helps with pain and instability during healing
- Massage Therapy
- Injections that are placed about the knee, typically for tendinitis, bursitis and arthritis
- Steroid Injections: for pain and inflammation
- PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) and Stem Cell Injections: used to assist the healing process for injuries to the cartilage and ligaments of the knee
- Hyaluronic Acid: to supplement and nourish the cartilage to potentially restore it
With most sports knee injuries surgery is not required but in extreme cases, orthopedic knee surgery is performed to treat diseases and conditions that are not responding to more conservative treatments. Surgeries include minimally invasive/Arthroscopic surgery, ligament reconstruction, meniscal repair, joint replacement, open reduction and internal fixation (surgeries used to repair fractures), and cartilage repair, regrowth and regeneration. AOSMI Board-Certified, Sports Medicine Fellowship Trained Surgeons are specialized in the most advanced arthroscopic minimally invasive surgical techniques and will determine what will provide the most optimal outcome if surgery is necessary.
Your knee is very important as an athlete and simply for your overall mobility. If you feel that you may have injured your knee or have knee pain, get evaluated by physicians who understand what it means to be an athlete. At AOSMI, our Sports Medicine Specialists will work with you to get your injury healed as quickly as possible and back into the game. Call today to schedule your appointment – 732-720-2555!