What is a knee injury?
The knee is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the body. Whether you’re moving or sitting throughout the day, your knees can experience heavy wear and tear, so it’s important to take good care of them.
Three large bones come together to form the knee joint: The femur, the tibia, and the patella. Each one is covered at the ends with a cushioned, elastic material called cartilage that works like a shock absorber.
These bones are additionally supported by two muscle groups: The hamstrings at the back of the thigh, and the quadriceps at the front of the thigh.
Although knee injuries can happen to anyone, some activities and demographics are higher risk than others, such as:
- Athletes, especially in high-impact sports
- Runners, especially if wearing improper footwear
- People who are overweight
- People who sit too long in uncomfortable positions
Knee injuries left untreated can potentially lead to a number of complications, like:
Understanding the signs of a serious knee injury can help you know when it’s time to seek treatment from a health professional.
Signs of a knee injury
The first sign of a knee injury that most people feel is pain. Though the pain may be severe, often there is only a very mild stiffness or discomfort around the knee joint, especially while making certain repetitive motions with it.
Other important warning signs of a serious knee injury include:
Pain while climbing stairs
Pain while climbing up the stairs is indicative of a torn meniscus, whereas pain while going down the stairs is a sign your kneecap is pushing painfully against the femur bone in the leg.
Some kinds of swelling can stop you from bearing weight on your knee or bending it at all, whereas you may have no problem whatsoever walking in other cases. Either way, a swollen knee shouldn’t be ignored.
Sometimes the injury shows itself right away, such as a sharp pain in the middle of exercising. In this case, the pain and swelling will happen immediately, suggesting a torn ligament or even a bone fracture has occurred.
Some injuries appear a few hours or even days after the injury actually took place. An overuse injury, for example, develops little by little in response to prolonged pressure and is often a sign of cartilage or meniscal tearing.
Some more signs to look for are:
- Popping sounds
- Feeling unstable
Seek medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms.
Types of knee injuries
Some kinds of knee pain go away with a little rest, but some injuries are more serious. The most common types of knee injuries are:
The bones of the knee joint may sometimes fall completely or partially out of alignment. Some people, due to their specific bone structure, may be more prone to this kind of injury than others. The most common cause of knee dislocation is trauma.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
Athletes who often quickly change direction or jump will often have ACL injuries. Many hear it "pop" when the ligament is either torn or strained.
Tendonitis in the knees is sometimes known as"jumper’s knee" because it often affects athletes who jump regularly. There are two tendons involved in the knee joint, around the quadriceps and patellar bones, and both can be stretched, torn, or worn down with time.
Latest Arthritis News
Daily Health News
Diagnosing knee injuries
Doctors have many tools at their disposal to aid in the diagnosis of knee injuries. For instance, they’ll often collect your medical history and ask you questions about your activity level. X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI scans can also provide a clear picture of your knee joint for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatments for knee injuries
Some mild knee injuries are treated using the R.I.C.E. method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Other cases may require physical therapy to strengthen the joint and restore its range of motion. Surgery is reserved for the most serious knee injuries and may be either minimally invasive or involve a total replacement of the joint.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
City Hospital at White Rock:"What Happens When You Ignore Knee Pain?"
Lifebridge Health:"Aging Knee."
Michigan Medicine:"Knee Problems and Injuries."
NYU Langone Health:"Diagnosing Knee Sprains, Strains & Tears."
OrthoInfo:"Common Knee Injuries."
Sports-health:"Treating Knee Sprains."
Sports Medicine Oregon:"Suffering With a Knee Injury?: The Most Common Knee Injuries."
Top What Are the Most Common Knee Injuries Related Articles
Arthritis in Knee: 4 Stages of OsteoarthritisPainful joint swelling is called arthritis. Osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear of the joints over many years. Arthritis maye develop in any joint, including the fingers, hips and knees. Usually, patients with arthritis feel pain in their joints even after moderate movements. There are four stages of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Dislocated KneeWith a dislocated knee, the femur and shinbones are out of alignment. Severe pain, swelling, and joint deformity are symptoms and signs of a knee dislocation. Treatment typically involves reduction of the joint, surgery to repair torn ligaments, and immobilization.
Early Signs of Arthritis in the KneeArthritis refers to the redness and swelling of the joints. It usually develops slowly over 10 to 15 years, interfering with daily life activities. Knowing the early signs of arthritis can help you take appropriate treatment and incorporate modifications in your diet and lifestyle.
How Do I Know If My Knee Pain Is Serious?Some knee pain may subside with adequate rest and other physical therapies, which can be done at home; however, knee pain that doesn’t dissolve easily with rest should be considered serious and requires medical attention. Knee pain is the most common complaint of the musculoskeletal system.
How Do You Relieve Pain In The Back Of Your Knee?Learn what medical treatments can help relieve pain in the back of your knee and help you manage pain in the back of your knee.
Knee InjuryKnee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, a popping sound, and difficulty bending the leg. Treatment may involve resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee, in addition to wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the knee.
Knee PainAcute injuries, medical conditions, and chronic use conditions are causes of knee pain. Symptoms and signs that accompany knee pain include redness, swelling, difficulty walking, and locking of the knee. To diagnose knee pain, a physician will perform a physical exam and also may order X-rays, arthrocentesis, blood tests, or a CT scan or MRI. Treatment of knee pain depends upon the cause of the pain.
Pain Management: All About Your KneesThey do their job so well that you might take them for granted. Learn how they're put together, what can go wrong with them, and what you can do about it when something does.
Knee Pain Dos and Don'tsYour knees go through a lot in the course of a day, and sometimes they can run into trouble. Here are a few things you can do when knee pain hits.
Knee Replacement Surgery and Recovery TimeDuring total knee replacement surgery, the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The risks include blood clots in the legs, urinary tract infection, nausea and vomiting, chronic knee pain, nerve damage, and infection.
What Can Cause Pain Behind the Knee?What causes pain behind the knee? Learn about Baker's cyst and other causes of pain behind the knee and what to do about them.
What Exercise Can I Do with Knee Bursitis?What is knee bursitis? Learn which exercises can help ease symptoms.
What Is the Home Remedy for Knee Pain? 10 Effective MeasuresKnee pain can be a recent malady—due to an injury or may be occurring for several years due to a joint condition such as osteoarthritis. Whatever be the reason, some home remedies will often work for both types of knee pain.
What Is Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA)?Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help the individual resume normal activities. In this procedure, the diseased or injured knee joint is replaced with artificial material. During total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the tibia (lower leg bone) is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem.