The Different Types of Knee Injuries—Treatment and Recovery
Your knee is a complex and critical component of your body, comprised of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It provides support to allow you to stand tall, but it also functions much like a door hinge, playing a key role in most types of movement, including running, walking, sitting, jumping and squatting. Because of the role it plays in many areas of your life, your knee can be susceptible to a wide range of injuries.
- Ligament injuries—You have four major ligaments connected to your knee: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The cruciate ligaments are located deep within the knee joint, where as the collateral ligaments are found on either side of the knee. Perhaps the most common knee ligament injury is some type of trauma to the ACL, which can range from a mild sprain to a complete tear. Many ACL injuries can be effectively treated non-invasively, but ACL tears customarily require surgery. A significant percentage of ACL injuries are sports-related.
- Torn meniscus—Your meniscus is a wedge of cartilage (there are two in each knee) that provides padding/cushioning between the thigh bone and the shin bone. The meniscus can tear, either from trauma or from aging. When it does, it often leaves a flap of cartilage that can impede range of motion in the knee. If the tear is severe enough, it will typically be treated with arthroscopic surgery that trims and removes the flap of cartilage.
- Bursitis—You also have small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which provide additional cushioning in your knees and facilitate the unimpeded movement of ligaments. Repetitive motion or overuse can cause the bursa sacs to swell, causing discomfort. Bursitis can often be treated non-invasively, with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication or the withdrawal of excess fluids with a needle.
- Tendonitis—The tendonitis you experience in your knee is usually associated with the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shin bone. It’s common among athletes who do a lot of jumping, running or pushing off with their knees. The RICE acronym—rest, ice, compression and elevation—is usually an effective way to treat and remedy knee tendonitis.