Knee Injuries We Specialize In Treating.
Common Knee Injuries
No matter what the sport or activity, limited motion or flexibility in the knees has a direct impact on speed and power and can compromise your performance.
It is important to see a Sports Medicine Specialist at the first sign of knee pain as many knee conditions are progressive and will worsen if left untreated.
Common knee injuries include:
- Meniscus Tears
- ACL Injuries
- MCL / PCL Injuries
- Tendonitis of the Knee
- Patellofemoral Pain (Jumper’s Knee or Runner’s Knee)
- Hamstring Injuries
- Knee Instability
- Patellar Dislocation
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It supports the lower body and bends the leg. Knee arthritis, the inflammation of knee bone and soft tissue, is common. The three types of knee arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA). The wear and tear of knee cartilage with age. OA is most common in patients over 50. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness. Symptoms usually become worse during weight-bearing activities. If left untreated, OA and presenting symptoms become worse.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease—the body attacks its own bone and cartilage. RA usually affects both knees. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and general fatigue. RA’s cause is unknown.
- Posttraumatic arthritis. Arthritis that develops after an accident or injury. Common causes include knee fractures and ligament, cartilage, and tendon tears.
Knee arthritis is a chronic condition—it can be managed but not cured.
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common orthopedic conditions. It is characterized by the wear and tear of knee cartilage with age. Knee bone becomes inflamed as cartilage loses its integrity and function. Painful bone spurs may develop. Joint space decreases. Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness. Weight-bearing usually increases symptoms. Patients who are over 50 years old, not active, overweight and smoke are most at risk.
An early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Fellowship trained and board-certified Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey (OICJ) physicians specialize in knee osteoarthritis. They obtain a complete medical history review, perform a physical examination, and order and analyze x-rays. An accurate diagnosis is always made.
ACL Tears & Injuries
An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear/injury is one of the most common and well-known orthopedic injuries. The ACL is a very important ligament because it prevents the tibia (shin bone) from sliding in front of the femur (thigh bone). The ACL stabilizes the knee while walking, running, jumping, and moving from side to side. An ACL tear/injury usually occurs during running and jumping sports and activities. Movements that cause an ACL tear/injury are:
- Suddenly changing directions
- Suddenly stopping
- Landing from a jump
A blow to the knee may also be a cause. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and instability. Patients who sustain an ACL tear/injury should see an Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey (OICJ) specialist as soon as possible. A physical examination determines the severity of the tear/injury. Once swelling decreases, X-rays, and an MRI are ordered and analyzed. An accurate diagnosis is always made.
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MCL Tears & Injuries
- Immediate pain and swelling
- Knee instability
- Difficulty bear weight/walking
Patients who sustain an MCL tear/injury should make an appointment with an Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey (OIOCJ) specialist as soon as possible. A physical examination determines the severity of the tear/injury. In some cases, X-rays and an MRI are ordered after swelling goes down. An accurate diagnosis is made so the tear/injury can be effectively treated. OIOCJ specialists are fellowship trained and board-certified. They prescribe customize treatment plans that decrease symptoms and heal the tear/injury.
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Meniscus Tears & Injuries
The femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) come together to form the knee joint. The joint is the largest in the body. It supports, stabilizes, and moves the lower body. The meniscus is an important piece of soft cartilage in the knee joint. The meniscus is located between the femur and tibia—serving as a shock absorber that distributes weight and protects the bones from rubbing against each other.
A meniscus tear occurs when a piece of the meniscus is torn. Most meniscus tears happen during sports and physical activities that require cutting, running, and jumping. The following are common symptoms of a meniscus tear:
- Knee instability
- An audible click when bending the knee
Patella Tendon Tear
The patella or kneecap is a small bone that protects the knee. The patella tendon connects the patella to the tibia (shin bone). The patella tendon may partially or completely tear. A strong force delivered from a fall or jump is the cause of a patella tendon tear. Tears usually occur during sports or physical activities. The following are common symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
- A visible indention
An audible snap may be heard when the tendon tears. Tendon tears require medical attention as soon as possible. Fellowship trained and board-certified Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey specialists accurately diagnose patella tendon tears. A physical examination, x-ray, and MRI are used. Findings reveal the severity of the injury. A customized treatment plan relieves symptoms and heals the tendon.
Knee Fractures & Breaks
Broken bones (fractures) are very common for all ages. The active patient is susceptible to higher-energy injuries, and the elderly are subject to the fragile nature of their osteoporotic bones. Not all fractures require surgery. The treatment depends on a number of factors including: which bone is injured, whether the bone has displaced or angulated (moved out of place), whether it can be adequately stabilized and immobilized in a cast or brace, other associated injuries, etc. When surgery is recommended, there are many implantable devices, most made of stainless steel or titanium, that help stabilize fractures and encourage them to heal in an optimized position. Few of these devices ever have to be removed, but in certain circumstances are removed at a later date. Such devices include: external fixators, plates, screws, pins, rods, etc. The healing time for fractures can be effected by many variables such as patient age, medical condition, severity of injury, diabetes, infection and tobacco use. In general, most fractures will progress through the healing process over 6-12 weeks.
Muscle Strains & Sprains
Muscle Strains & Sprains are extremely common conditions, especially in this age of greater recreation and fitness. The injury is usually minor and heals over the course of 2-6 weeks without special treatment or intervention. The initial treatment involves rest, ice, elevation and avoidance of the activity that caused the injury. It is not uncommon for severe sprains and strains to lead to swelling and visible bruising. Muscle strains can benefit from gentle stretching during the healing process, and applied heat before activity, ice after activity. Obvious deformity of the muscle, severe swelling and pain, or other confusing symptoms should be brought to the attention of your orthopaedic physician.
Joint sprains vary in severity from:
- Grade 1 – Mild Sprain
- Grade 2 – Partial Ligament Tear
- Grade 3 – Full Ligament Tear
Injuries that make it very difficult to walk or function deserve orthopaedic evaluation, as certain patterns of ligament injury will benefit from bracing, physical therapy, or even surgery. In general, the initial treatment should include; rest, ice, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medications.
“Overuse injuries” is a general term used to describe symptoms caused by repetitive activity or trauma. Examples include: tendonitis, bursitis, stress fractures, muscle soreness, shin splints, tennis elbow, etc. Most of these conditions can be successfully treated without surgery and warrant orthopaedic evaluation when non-surgical treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, rest, ice, and time do not relieve the pain.
Calf Muscle Injuries
Calf muscle injuries can be painful and disabling. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are typically referred to as the calf muscles. These muscles are primarily responsible for allowing you to stand on your toes and push off while walking and jumping. Injury to the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle is commonly referred to as “tennis leg” due to its high incidence in tennis players. This injury is not exclusive to tennis players but highlights an underlying mechanism of injury due to repetitive weight-bearing push off and direction change. Sometimes the athlete reports an audible pop or feels they were kicked in the back of the leg. Swelling and bruising may present 48 hours after injury. The distal most aspect of the gastrocnemius muscle transitions to the Achilles tendon. An examination is required to confirm that the Achilles tendon in not injured as this injury needs more urgent attention. For a gastrocnemius tear, treatment is initiated by targeting pain, swelling, and bleeding. Most injuries are managed conservatively with early aggressive physical rehabilitation.
Articular Cartilage Injuries And Conditions
The articular cartilage is the surface covering of the ends of the bones joining at the knee (femur and tibia). This tissue is vulnerable to wear and tear in a similar fashion to the meniscus and is commonly affected by general aging in the population over 40 years of age. Articular cartilage is also an avascular or poorly nourished tissue. When injured some can be repaired by various surgical techniques for the knee including but not limited to substitute tissue grafts, procedures known as microfracturing, and in the future, regenerative growth techniques. Generally though, articular cartilage develops a wear pattern of the portion of the “tread” of the surface and remains a contributing factor leading to early arthrosis of the knee joint and is responsible for swelling of the knee (water on the knee) leading to stiffness and weakness and orthopedic evaluation.
Patellofemoral Joint Injuries
The patellofemoral joint or the kneecap gliding on its receiving surface is commonly involved in running conditions, flexion, squatting-type occupations and is recognized as the earliest site of arthritis development in age-related populations. Symptoms include difficulty on stairs, kneeling, and squatting and also is accompanied by swelling. Treatment of patellofemoral problems typically is conservative using various orthopedic measures to control inflammation and restore function.