Common Knee Injuries
The knee is one of the most used joints in the body; it's also the largest and most complex. Many people overlook the importance of taking care of one's knees until it's way too late.
Yet, your knees provide you with the mobility and flexibility to complete everyday activities, such as walking, jumping or bending. As such, when injury strikes, it can have a significant impact on your daily life.
What makes up the knee? It's a joint comprising the kneecap (patella), tendons that connect to your leg muscles, and ligaments connecting the thigh bone (femur) to your lower leg or shin bone (tibia). All of these parts allow for movement, stability, and strength in the lower body.
Because it's the most used joint, it's also commonly injured. From sports activities to trips and falls, there are many ways the knee can quickly get damaged. Recovery can vary in length and in the type of treatment needed; more serious injuries might require surgery or long-term active rehab, while others heal after a few days and a few massage therapy treatments.
It's essential to learn what injuries can happen and how to prevent them. Here are the five most common knee injuries you need to know.
Tendonitis or patellar tendonitis is the inflammation of the knee; specifically, it's an injury to the tendon connecting the front of the thigh, knee and shinbone. The patellar tendon is responsible for allowing the extension of the knee to enable running, jumping, and other physical activities.
Tendonitis symptoms include pain, swelling, and limited mobility. This injury is also colloquially called 'jumper's knee,' as it's common among athletes who frequently jump, such as basketball players.
A knee sprain is the umbrella term for the different ways the ligaments in your knee can be injured. Ligaments are the fibrous tissue that connects one bone to another, and a sprain is a sudden or violent wrench that can cause lasting pain. Sprains often result in redness, swelling, pain, bruising, and limited movements.
Recovering from a sprain may involve seeking sports massage therapy or active rehab. There are four types of knee sprains, relating to the four ligaments in the knee:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
The ACL connects with the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) to form an "X" on the inside of the knee to provide stabilization. A wrong twist, sudden stop, quick pivot or extreme straightening of the knee can result in a sprain. This type of injury is common in athletes, especially those who play football, basketball, soccer, or wrestling. An injury to the ACL can result in severe loss of function, impacting nearby body parts and sometimes even resulting in back pain.
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) — The PCL, mentioned above, works with the ACL to help stabilize the inside of the knee. It can be injured from direct impact to the front of the knee, such as from a car accident or an improper landing from a jump.
Medial collateral ligament (MCL) — The MCL ligament supports the knee through its connection to the inner leg. An MCL sprain is a common sports injury resulting from a direct hit to the side of the knee or lower leg. You can also sprain the MCL from a severe twist of the knee, commonly seen in skiing or wrestling.
Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) — The LCL is a ligament that supports the outside of the knee. Direct impact on the inside of the knee can lead to damage to the LCL. However, this injury isn't common because the opposite leg often acts as a shield from any impact in that area.
Like any bone, the kneecap can be fractured or broken. A knee fracture is a significant injury that can make it difficult or near impossible to walk or extend the leg.
A fall, an accident, or any extreme impact on the bone can cause a break. Those with osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures and may experience one from a wrong step or simply by tripping.
High impact traumas from falls, sports activities or car accidents can cause the dislocation of the knee. When the knee dislocates, bones can pop or slip out of their placement and become misaligned. A dislocated knee can take up to six weeks to recover.
As mentioned above, the patellar tendon is particularly vulnerable to fractures and tears. A tendon tear, or ruptured tendon, can occur from overstretching or twisting and is typically found in older or middle-aged men.
As you can see, how a knee gets injured is all fairly similar—it's either caused by a wrong move, pull, twist, or direct impact. The type of injury and treatment needed can vary depending on the severity and the specific area or body part that is hurt.
How to Prevent Knee Injuries
Now that you know what could happen if you don't take care of your knees, here's how to actually prevent injury from occurring. If you're at an age where the body is more fragile, be sure to adapt to your body and add the appropriate precautions necessary to keep you safe while participating in high-impact activities.
Athletes should always conduct warm-up and cool-down exercises after every exercise. Daily stretching will also keep the body limber and flexible for the variety of movements needed in sports. It's also important to avoid overuse; overtraining in any area can cause aggravation and lead to disruption in stretching and warm-up routines crucial for injury prevention.
Since knee injuries can have a serious impact on one’s quality of life, it’s common to want to work through the pain, especially for competitive athletes. However, allowing an injury the time it needs to heal and seeking appropriate treatment is the key to long-term recovery. Failure to do so could lead to chronic pain, migraines, worsening of injury, and in the most extreme cases, permanent loss of function.
If you're suffering from a knee injury and looking for massage therapists in Port Moody and Coquitlam, look no further than Inspine Therapy. Rather than a prescriptive approach to treatment, the practitioners at Inspine Therapy work with your specific needs and goals.
At Inspine Therapy, you can seek massage therapy, sports massage therapy, active rehab treatment, and much more. Book your appointment today!