The knee is the most easily injured part of the human body thanks to both its size and to the number of parts that combine to make it. The knee of the body is a combination of the patella (knee cap) resting on a cushion of cartilage (the meniscus) that joins the lower end of the femur to the upper part of the tibia. There are multiple large ligaments supporting the structure of the knee that serve to connect the bones and provide stability while moving.
There are a multitude of possible injuries that the knee can suffer, and many of them require immediate treatment after damage is sustained. There are a number of key symptoms associated with an injured knee, and medical attention should be sought out if any of them are being experienced.
Severe or crippling knee pain, the inability to use your knee to hold weight, the inability to move your knee, severe swelling on the knee, or the utterance of a clicking/popping noise while moving the knee are all signs pointing to a strong chance of injury.
The Most Common Knee Injury
Of the four main ligaments that compose the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (the ACL) is the main muscle in controlling the back and forth movement, and is the most commonly injured. The ACL mainly becomes injured by being torn away from the knee as a result of a sudden change in direction while moving, or during awkward landings.
An injury to the ACL is typically accompanied by damage to the surrounding areas as well (such as to the meniscus), making a quick examination and diagnosis important to assess how severe the injury is. Diagnosis of an ACL involves a Los Angeles or Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeon examining the range of motion and if the knee moves in ways it should not.
The orthopedic doctor in Los Angeles will order an x-ray to assess the possibility of fractures, and an MRI to check on the ACL injury itself. The MRI will also reveal potential damage to the meniscus. Many ACL injuries require the patient to go into surgery to reattach the tendon, making this common injury a very serious occurrence.
The Meniscal Tear
Another common injury happens to the menisci, which are located with one each on the inner, and the outer sides of the joint. The menisci are the pieces of cartilage that hold the knee together, acting as a shock absorber would for a wheel to help distribute stress to the knee during movement.
The inner meniscus is most commonly the one torn, as a result of suddenly pivoting. The injury is most often the result of twisting or turning the knee while the foot is planted, and has differing degrees of severity.
Diagnosis is very important, and similar to the ACL in terms of requiring an MRI to adequately view severity of the injury. In minor cases of a tear, the joint can healed in a matter of weeks with techniques such as R.I.C.E., elevation and wrapping of the knee, and general resting.
In the case of a moderate to severe tear, surgery is often performed in order for the injured individual to reliably be able to use the joint in the future. Surgery is performed to reattach the meniscus if necessary and in cases where there are residual pieces of the meniscus.
Injuries to the LCL, the PCL, and MCL
Injuries to these areas are most often the result of a direct blow to the area of the ligament, and each result in pain, swelling, and reduced use of the joint. Quick diagnosis with a top sports medicine doctor in Los Angeles to determine the severity of the ligament injuries is paramount, as a full tear in any of these can greatly affect the future performance of the joint. Pain, swelling, difficulty in bending or moving the joint, or a feeling that the knee will give out can be symptoms of any of the three of these ligaments being torn.
With each individual case there can be a range of severity, so a speedy diagnosis and resulting treatment plan for the injury is crucial in maintaining the ability to use the joint in the future. Urgent care should be sought immediately if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above associated with knee injuries.