The knees and their supporting bones, ligaments, and muscles serve as the body’s natural shock absorbers. However, when the underlying components of the knee are overextended, broken, or torn, painful injuries can arise that prevent you from exercising or performing daily activities. Recognizing these injuries and their prevention techniques can help you reduce the risk of damage from common knee injuries.
Fractures are broken bones and the resultant pain and swelling that ensues when force is applied to the bone that is stronger than the bone. Fractures can be caused by high-trauma events like falls, motor vehicle collisions, or violent muscular contractions. A patellar or kneecap fracture is common because the kneecap shields the underlying knee joint.
A knee or kneecap fracture can be prevented by avoiding high-risk activities like climbing that can cause falls or blows to the knee, performing weight-bearing exercises to strengthen the bones and muscles supporting the knee, and wearing protective padding during sports.
Dislocations occur when the bones in the knee, such as the femur, tibia, or patella, become unstable and misaligned, causing swelling or discoloration. Dislocations are common knee injuries among athletes engaging in sports that can cause falls and redirection or twisting of the foot, like soccer, skateboarding, or hockey.
Dislocations in the knee can be prevented by strengthening the quadriceps and hamstrings to reduce the risk of injury, wearing knee sleeves to improve tracking and motion of the kneecap during activity, and minimizing participation in contact sports.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) crossing from the femur to the tibia provides rotational stability for the knee during physical activity. Therefore, injuries to the ACL represent common knee injuries from running, basketball, football, and skiing. Deceleration, pivoting, sidestepping and awkward landings can cause ACL injuries like tears and accompanying meniscal, cartilage, and ligament damage that can lead to knee instability.
ACL injuries can be prevented by warming up before exercise, ensuring that the knees do not collapse inward when jumping, stopping, or landing, and performing exercises that improve neuromuscular control and kneecap mobility.
Meniscal tears occur in the wedge-shaped cartilage between the thighbone and shinbone which makes up the meniscus. These tears can cause a popping sensation, pain, stiffness, and swelling. While meniscal tears most often occur during sports like soccer or football that lead to twisting, pivoting, or being tackled, they can also arise from awkward twists when getting up if the menisci are weak from age.
Meniscal tears can be prevented by recognizing stress in the knee and avoiding overuse injuries, performing knee stabilization exercises, lacing up footwear adequately, and exercising proper exercise form to mitigate wear and tear of the knee.
Tendon tears occur when the quadriceps tendons or patellar tendons are stretched and torn and cause bruising, tenderness, or cramping. While anyone is susceptible to this injury, middle-aged individuals in particular who run or engage in activities involving jumping are prone to experience tendon tears due to falls and other blows to the knee.
Tendon tears can be prevented by minimizing physical activities with repeated movements that aggravate the tendons, alternating your fitness routine with low weight-bearing activities like swimming, and consulting a trainer or physician for proper sports techniques and equipment suited to your size and abilities.
Contact Manhattan Orthopedic Care for a consultation on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation from common knee injuries like a kneecap fracture and ACL injuries.