At some point in their lives, many people need to see a knee doctor because the knee is the body's biggest joint, but it is also among the most usually injured ones. Your knee joint includes bones, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons that work together, allowing you to bend the leg. Due to all the moving elements on your knee and your joint's delicate nature, it is extremely vulnerable to various conditions and injuries.
If you have knee pain or discomfort, it is best to see a knee doctor to check if you are suffering from a knee condition or injury. But before we dive into that, let us first talk about the knee anatomy and recognize the telltale signs and symptoms of a knee injury or condition.
The knee is the body's biggest joint and most vulnerable to injury. It comprises four major structural components: bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Your knee joint is comprised of three bones: your femur (thighbone), your tibia (shinbone), and your patella (kneecap). To give some protection, the patella rests in front of the joint.
This covers the extremities of the femur, tibia, and the patella's rear. As you straighten or bend your leg, this slick fluid allows your knee bones to move easily over one other.
Two wedge-shaped meniscal cartilage sections between your tibia and femur operate as shock absorbers. The meniscus, unlike articular cartilage, is strong and springy to assist in cushioning and supporting the joint. When people speak about torn cartilage in the knee, they typically mean a torn meniscus.
Ligaments link bones to one another. The four major ligaments in your knee function like sturdy ropes to hold your bones together and stabilize your knee.
These are located on the inside and outside of your knee. The medial collateral ligament is inside your knee, whereas the lateral collateral ligament is outside. They are in charge of your knee's side-to-side movement.
These are located within your knee joint. They form an X by crossing each other, with your anterior cruciate ligament at the front and your posterior cruciate ligament in the rear. Your knee's forward, and cruciate ligaments control back mobility.
Tendons link muscles and bones. The quadriceps tendon links the front thigh muscles to your patella. Your patellar tendon links the patella to the tibia.
Here are the most common knee injuries that need attention from a knee doctor:
Your patella, often known as the knee cap, protects the knee joints against additional injury or damage. Once you fall or are hit by anything, the kneecap first protects the various portions of your knee joint from the impact. As a result, the kneecap is more prone to fractures.
Knee fractures are frequent, but they can be fatal. Your knee should be immobilized to let the bone recover, or surgery may be required.
A knee dislocation happens when the bones of the knee become dislocated. This can occur after a significant hit to your knee, like a collision, a fall, or a vehicle accident.
In mild cases, your knee will heal itself. It'll be uncomfortable, but it will work normally. If this does not happen or if the injury is serious, repositioning the knee bones is the only way to heal from a dislocation. A knee doctor can effectively reposition the bones in severe cases.
In sports, ligament injuries are relatively prevalent. They arise once your knee is overextended and/or manipulated unnaturally, and your ligaments cannot withstand the action. Since your ligaments hold your knee in place, if they are overstressed, they cannot accomplish their job and can tear and stretch.
The cruciate ligaments that form the X - your (ACL) anterior cruciate ligament and your (PCL) posterior cruciate ligament - are the most commonly injured.
Even though ligament injuries are quite common, the severity of the damage varies.
Grade I: In this type of knee injury, the ligament fibers have been a little overstretched, resulting in a ligament sprain. There will be little to no bruising and only little swelling.
Grade II: The ligament fibers are partly ripped but not completely torn. This will cause greater joint restriction and pain and more swelling and bruising.
Grade III: This injury occurs once your ligament is ripped, resulting in significant discomfort initially. The knee and its surrounding region will be swollen and bruised.
Meniscus tears are pretty common in activities that involve leaping or twisting, like volleyball. Meniscus tears are also prevalent in sports where athletes change direction fast while sprinting, such as in football or soccer. A torn meniscus can arise from knee twisting, cutting, or rotating. Nevertheless, the meniscus could tear as a result of wear and tear over time.
Tendon tears can occur in anybody, although they are more prevalent in middle-aged adults who run or participate in sports and other exercises that require jumping. Awkwardly landing after a jump is a typical way to hurt the tendon since it cannot withstand overextension.
Because of the direct impact on the front of the knee, falls can also result in a stretched tendon.
Pain behind the kneecap characterizes patellofemoral pain syndrome. Squatting, going up and down slopes or stairs, or sitting for long periods might aggravate the discomfort. The most common cause is irregular kneecap movement while the knee is bent and straightened. This might result in cartilage wear and tear on the rear of the kneecap.
Muscle imbalances, tight muscles, and anatomical abnormalities of the lower leg can all contribute to the condition. Pain normally develops gradually over time.
Because the iliotibial band runs around the outside of the knee, it may continually brush against the knee joint. This eventually leads to a lot of wear and tear. This condition is most frequent among long-distance runners, but it can happen anytime when the knee is overworked. The discomfort is usually minimal initially, but it escalates if the individual keeps using it. Rest is usually required for those with iliotibial band syndrome to heal the damage completely. In serious cases, however, it could necessitate a trip to the knee doctor.
Tendons are strong fibrous tissue bands that connect your leg muscles to the knee bones. Patellar tendinitis occurs when the tendons become inflamed as a result of overuse. It is commonly known as "jumper's knee" since it is common among sportsmen who spend much time leaping. It usually begins as a dull aching in the knee before swelling and discomfort develop. In many situations, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs are sufficient to manage it, but surgery may be required if scar tissue develops.
Your knee cartilage has a smooth surface that helps the joints to slide effortlessly when you move. Injuries, regular wear and tear, being overweight, and aging may all damage the cartilage, placing extra strain on the bones in your knee when they begin to rub together and eventually leading to osteoarthritis.
Knee swelling and pain are two tell-tale indicators of a knee injury. You might also have difficulties moving the joint. It might feel tight, lock up, or catch when you straighten and bend your leg.
You should be concerned once you hear your knee snap and give out when it's contacted. This popping noise might indicate something ripping. Because the ligaments are unstable after a knee injury, you might be unable to stand solidly on your leg. Your knee might feel like it's giving way.
If your knee discomfort is mild, it is possible that it resulted from just overexertion and not from severe injury. The RICE method is typically used to manage this pain. If this strategy works for you and you feel better, you can avoid seeing a doctor.
It's crucial to see your knee doctor if you are having severe swelling, pain, bruising, or instability. Ignoring the condition may exacerbate it, turning a mild sprain into a tear.
Stabilizing the knee is among the initial measures in treating a knee injury. Your knee doctor would recommend wearing a brace to prevent the knee joint from shifting. This will allow for optimal healing of bone fractures. Crutches might also be prescribed to help avoid placing weight on your injured knee.
Physical therapy will consist of exercises and stretches over several weeks to restore function to your knee joint. Furthermore, the therapy sessions will help strengthen the muscles that surround your joint.
When physical therapy and other approaches have not helped treat your knee injury, surgery may be required to restore its function entirely. Some injuries, such as a fully torn ligament, cannot heal independently and require surgery.
Nevertheless, many knee procedures may be performed minimally, invasively, and arthroscopically with micro equipment and small incisions. A wider incision will be required to heal the damage in other circumstances.