Common knee injuries
The knee joint is pivotal to our mobility but also experiences a great deal of force passing through it as we move as it is supporting our body weight. The activity you undertake will determine the type and amount of force passing through the joint.
The joint itself joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), with the patella (kneecap) and the fibula (second bone of the lower leg) also forming the joint. There are also four ligaments working to stabilise the joint which are the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL).
Many of us will have experienced knee pain at some stage, a very generic term which can indicate a multitude of complaints. The pain can be centred on different parts of the joint with varying degrees of intensity and varying degrees of severity, which is why a professional diagnosis is essential so that the best possible set of treatment is offered.
The majority of knee injuries result from oversee where we have pushed ourselves too far, though falls, slips and trips can result in more serious conditions requiring more comprehensive treatment programmes.
Following any injury the RICE principles should be adhered to in that of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to help minimise the damage caused.
Sprains and strains
Sprains typically result from overuse, whereby ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. It is a sign that you should take some time to rest before returning to your chosen activity in order to minimise the risk of further damage being caused.
Following a minor sprain or strain you will normally experience inflammation and it can be rather painful, but ice can help to soothe this and in the event of severe inflammation you should elevate your leg above the level of the heart.
If this is a typical occurrence following an activity then a knee support can be used to help keep you active for longer, the compressive nature of the support working to manage inflammation.
Ligaments are responsible for our overall stability by connecting the bones within a joint. Any damage here can affect your overall stability making mobility increasingly difficult due to your inability to weight bear.
There are varying degrees of knee ligament damage graded from 1 to 3. A grade 1 is largely self-limiting and whilst it can be painful you should expect to make a full recovery following a period of rest and strengthening exercises. A grade 3 tear or rupture will normally require surgery to repair the damage and can lead to up to a year on the sidelines.
The ACL is probably one of the most high profile of knee injuries with 40% occurring from participation in extreme sports. In this area many choose to a wear a rigid knee brace prophylactically in order to minimise risk of injury in the first instance. These rigid designs differ from the soft supports used as part of injury rehabilitation.
Osteoarthritis of the knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee is a condition resulting in the degradation of the cartilage within the knee joint which can compromise mobility and be increasingly painful. The condition mainly affects those of an older generation following wear and tear, though equally anyone having suffered an ACL injury in the past is 50% likely to see symptoms of OA within 10 years. Body weight and family are also causes of the condition.
A lack of cartilage within the joint leads to bone on bone contact which is where the pain occurs and can be extremely debilitating and restrict everyday tasks from walking around the house and even getting in and out of chairs.
From an OA treatment perspective there are a variety of options available depending on the severity of the condition with early diagnosis essential in being able to limit the onset of the condition. If you are experiencing any symptoms of OA then you should speak with a clinician.
If you have any of these common knee injuries, get in touch with us today to book an appointment.