With young teenagers and kids, knee injuries are most common with increased physical activity or a contact sport. However, with aging comes natural forms of wear and tear on the knee. The most common knee injuries in adults stem from arthritis or a sprain.
1. Knee Sprain
A knee sprain can be defined as when one of the four knee ligaments is overstretched or torn. There are two cruciate ligaments - anterior and posterior (ACL & PCL) that are in the center of the joint. There are also two collateral ligaments - the medial and lateral (MCL & LCL) on the sides that can also be torn. Sprains are also sometimes called a ligament tear or knee strain. Strains and Sprains are actually different types of injury. A strain involves muscles or tendons. Common symptoms of knee sprain include:
- Ligament pain
- Difficulty bending or straightening the knee
2. Meniscus Tear
Meniscus tears are very common among athletes involved in contact sports, but anyone can tear their meniscus. The menisci are two wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage between the thighbone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia). This tough and rubbery cartilage works as a "shock-absorber" for the knee joint. Athletes suffer more from sudden meniscus tears, while older people are more likely to develop a degenerative meniscus tear. As the cartilage tissue in your knee becomes more worn with age, it's more likely to tear performing everyday activities such as simply getting out of a chair.
A slight tear in the outer third of the meniscus is likely to heal itself and not require surgery. Unfortunately, the inner two thirds of the meniscus lack a solid blood supply making non-surgical treatment options difficult. Your doctor will likely evaluate your age, activity levels, and if you have any related injuries before recommending surgery.
A knee arthroscopy involves a few incisions in the knee. One for a camera so your doctor can see and another for the instrument used to perform the procedure.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis to develop in the knee. Also known as the degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but is most commonly found in the knee, hip, or in the small joints of the big toe. In normal joints, the rubbery cartilage covers and cushions the ends of the bones making movement smooth and painless. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage is weakened by everyday "wear-and-tear." After significant degeneration of the cartilage and meniscus, there's a chance of painful bone-on-bone rubbing and joint damage. Bone spurs can develop when the bones break down. Osteoarthritis gradually increases in painfulness as degeneration in the knee continues.
People over the age of 65 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Obesity, previous joint injuries and genetics are also a few risk factors linked to osteoarthritis.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is incurable, but can be managed in a number of different manners. Osteoarthritis management includes:
- Physical activity
- Weight management
- Pain/Anti-inflammation medication
- Physical/Occupational therapy
4. ACL Tear
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) connects the thighbone to the shinbone. The ACL holds the knee stable. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says, the incidence of ACL injuries is currently estimated at approximately 200,000 annually, with 100,000 ACL reconstructive surgeries performed each year. Approximately 50% of ACL injuries occur in combination with damage to the meniscus, articular cartilage, or other ligaments.
Following an ACL tear, surgery is almost always unavoidable, but with physical therapy and home exercises you can recover to your previous level of function.
Knee Pain? Want to know what is causing your pain? Schedule an appointment today with one of OrthoNeuro's orthopedic surgeons.