Our knees are some of the most hard-working joints in the body whether that is during everyday routine tasks, high impact sports or simply supporting body weight.
It’s no surprise that with the strenuous work that the knees perform throughout our lifetime they will likely wear out or sustain injury at some point. Here we look at some common knee injuries and some easy ways that you can take care of your knees.
Common Knee Injuries
The two most common soft tissue knee injuries are meniscus tears and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
A meniscal tear happens when part of the knee called the meniscus, which helps to cushion the joint, ruptures usually due to a forceful twist of the knee. This leads to painful swelling and stiffness.
An ACL injury is more common in athletes, and similarly to meniscus tears, these occur during a twisting movement. The ACL is an important stabiliser in the knee. It joins the bottom of the thigh bone (femur) to the top of your shin bone (tibia). ACL tears can be either partial or complete tears, depending on whether the ligament stretches or completely ruptures. People who enjoy pivoting sports such as football, netball, rugby and basketball are particularly prone to these injuries. ACL injuries are often combined with meniscal injuries and other ligament sprains around the knee.
The most common painful knee ailment in the slightly older age group is as a result of arthritis. This gradual process can cause inflammation in the knee joints as a result of cartilage damage. Knee arthritis leads to pain, stiffness and swelling if left untreated. This is often accompanied by muscle weakness and deformities of the legs. For example, bowing, leading to a progressive loss of function and mobility.
Ways To Take Care Of Your Knees
Knee pain resulting from common strains and sprains can often be treated at home. You can follow simple, non-invasive methods such as rest, ice, compression and elevation which is also known as RICE. Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medication, such as Ibuprofen can also help to decrease knee pain.
It is also important to address the cause of the pain – is it worse doing certain activities? Is it triggered by particular types of footwear? Or, has it worsened in line with weight gain? All of these questions are important to consider as it could help to highlight lifestyle causes that could be contributing.
Additionally, trained physiotherapists may be able to assist in helping to stretch and strengthen the knee joints and surrounding muscle in order to help take care of your knees. They can also address any muscular imbalances that may be contributing to the pain.
The Next Steps: Imaging
If you are still struggling with ongoing knee pain, after trying these conservative treatment options, then it is a good idea to organise some imaging of the knee. An MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is often used for soft-tissue injuries whereas simple weight-bearing X-rays usually suffice for arthritis. These images can help you to understand more information about damage to the cartilage, meniscus, ligaments and bone structures surrounding the knee.
If there is confirmed damage to either the cartilage surfaces or soft-tissue structures, and you are suffering from pain and limited movement, then knee surgery might be the best option for you.
For isolated meniscal tears this may include telescopic knee surgery and for ACL tears a reconstructive procedure. Widespread cartilage damage can be addressed with either a partial or total knee replacement.
Mr Punwar will make sure that you are fully informed of the risks and benefits of surgery and provide a comprehensive aftercare plan.
If you would like more information on knee injuries, knee surgery and the options available to you then get in touch today to book a consultation with Mr Punwar.