The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is comprised of ligaments, cartilage, bones, and tendons. The most common forms of knee injury are sprains, fractures, ligament tears, and dislocations. Often times, knee injuries can be treated without surgery through physical therapy and bracing. Extreme or chronic injuries however require surgical intervention.
Sprains: The stretching or tearing of the ligaments is called a sprain. When extreme force, tension or trauma is placed on specific areas of the knee, a sprain may result. RICE (Rest, Immobilization, Compression, Elevation) is a common and effective method for treating mild sprains. Bracing is often helpful in treating moderate sprains, however severe sprains in which the tendons become completely disconnected may require surgery.
Fractures: The bones making up the knee are the patella (kneecap), femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). Trauma due to contact sports, falls, etc., may result in a break. In the event of a compound fracture or splintering of the bone, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Torn ACL: The anterior cruciate ligament may be torn during high demand sports or activities. Approximately half of all ACL tears occur in conjunction with damage to additional structures within the knee including tendons or the meniscus. Surgery is often recommended for treating ACL tears.
Torn PCL: Posterior Cruciate Ligament tears are resultant of direct impact to the front of the knee while it is bent. It is commonly attributed to sports injuries and automobile accidents. Recovery is often achieved without surgical intervention.
Meniscus Tears: Meniscus tears are among the most common knee injuries. They often occur in conjunction with other injuries such as torn tendons. There are a number of different types of meniscus tears, depending on their type and location. Handle, radial, and flap tears are among the most common. While the outer sections of the meniscus have a rich blood supply, the interior sections have very little blood nutrients. For this reason, repair may involve surgery. Less severe meniscus tears can generally heal on their own using the RICE method and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
Tendon Tears: The quadricep and patellar tendons are frequently torn in middle-aged individuals participating in high impact sports such as basketball or running. Awkward landings, sporadic change in direction and impact are all contributors to this type of injury.
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