Knee Injury

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What is the prognosis of a knee injury?

The prognosis of a knee injury depends on the type and severity of the injury.

Knee injuries are rarely life-threatening, though severe injuries may be disabling. Knee-joint dislocations can cause vascular (blood vessel) injuries and can lead to severe disability.

Most minor knee injuries (strains, minor sprains) heal on their own with conservative treatment. The prognosis for these types of injures is good.

Ligament or cartilage injuries that lead to dysfunction or instability of the knee may require surgery. These injuries generally respond well to surgery and patients can ultimately gain full or nearly full range of knee motion.

Some knee injuries lead to chronic, irreversible damage to the knee and may result in long-term dysfunction.

Can knee injuries be prevented?

Knee injuries can be prevented by taking steps to reduce the risks:

  • Maintain fitness and lower-body strength
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Wear proper shoes for your sport
  • Train properly for your sport and do not overtrain
  • Maintain the playing surface for sports in optimum condition
    • Avoid slippery or uneven surfaces
    • Avoid loose turf or gravel
  • Wear knee braces and pads if required by your sport or suggested by your doctor
  • Do all rehab exercises if you have had a previous knee injury
  • Treat osteoporosis if you have it
  • Make sure your home is safe to avoid falls

For specific information on prevention of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), check out the ACL Prevention Project training program by the Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Foundation. It is a 15-minute training session that consists of a warm-up, stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and sport specific agility training.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery

REFERENCES:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Selected Issues in Injury and Illness Prevention and the Team Physician: A Consensus Statement." <http://www.aaos.org/about/papers/advistmt/1031.asp>.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Knee Arthroscopy Exercise Guide." (2000). <http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00300>.

Beitler, Jeffrey S. "Knee Ligament Injuries: PCL, LCL, MCL, and ACL Injury." Feb. 25, 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/knee-ligament-injuries?page=2>.

Juhn, Mark S. "Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A Review and Guidelines for Treatment." Am Fam Physician 60.7 Nov. 1, 1999: 2012-2018. <http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/1101/p2012.html>.

Murphy, D.F., D.A.J. Connolly, and B.D. Beynnon. "Risk Factors for Lower Extremity Injury: A Review of the Literature." Br J Sports Med 37 (2003): 13-29. <http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/37/1/13.full>.

Santa Monica Sports Medicine Foundation. "Pep Program." <http://smsmf.org/smsf-programs/pep-program>.

Wedro, Benjamin. "Knee Injury." eMedicineHealth.com. July 19, 2010. <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/knee_injury/article_em.htm>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/21/2015

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