Understanding the Various Forms of Knee Trauma
The knee is one of the most complex and crucial joints in the human body. It not only provides stability but is essential for many of the basic movements of daily life, including walking, sitting, bending, lifting, and turning. Comprising bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, the knee is a durable joint but also susceptible to both nagging and serious injury. Here are the most common types of knee injuries and how they differ:
- Torn meniscus—The cartilage in your knee is called meniscus. There are two wedges of menisci between your thigh and shin bones, and they provide cushioning when you rotate or move your knee joint. Meniscus can wear out over time, particularly if you engage in activities that put a lot of stress on your knees. You also can tear the meniscus during athletic activity or when lifting heavy objects. When you injure the meniscus in a traumatic incident, you’ll often hear or feel a pop in your knee. In addition, you’ll typically experience swelling or stiffness or find that your knee “catches” when you turn a certain way. The typical treatment for a torn meniscus is arthroscopy.
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury—Your ACL runs down the center of your knee, in the front, offering stability when you walk, run, or jump. ACL injuries run the gamut from sprains to tears. A sprain typically can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation, but a tear can be serious and require surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury, that procedure may be done arthroscopically or invasively.
- Bursitis—The bursae are fluid-filled sacs in the body that cushion the knee joints so that tendons and ligaments can move easily. Repetitive stress and motion can cause inflammation in the bursae, a medical condition known as bursitis. Rest is generally prescribed for bursitis, but anti-inflammatory medications also can help.
- Tendonitis—Tendons connect bone to bone. In the knee, tendons connect the kneecap (patella) to the shin and thigh bones. Overuse or physical stress can cause irritation or inflammation, known as tendonitis. Rest, stretching, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication can help.