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Dr. Mark Hosko, MD, May 19 2022

Common Knee Injuries: Types & Causes

Learn the Different Types of Knee Injuries & Why They Are So Common

Introduction

Knees are sensitive parts susceptible to injury, especially for those who exercise, run, or play sports. Injuries to the knees include fractures, dislocation, and issues with ligaments or tendons. Proper medical care can help to reduce discomfort and speed recovery. Know what symptoms to look for so you know if you need medical attention. 

What are the most common knee injuries?

Knees can, unfortunately, experience several common injuries. The most common are fractures, dislocation, ligament issues, tears, and bursitis. Each offers major discomfort and can cause an inability to walk or move comfortably. Let's take a closer look at each of the options.

Fractures are the most common knee injury, and the patella is the most likely to be injured. Most fractures are caused by trauma. However, both the distal femur and proximal tibia can sustain an injury as well. 

Dislocation causes the bones of the knee to be out of place, either partially or completely. The misalignment can happen from trauma, impact, crashes, and sports. Furthermore, dislocation can lead to instability of the kneecap. 

Ligament issues can occur in several forms, including anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. These happen most often during high-demanding sports when someone changes direction quickly or lands from a jump incorrectly and thus tears the ACL. Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL injuries are a blow to the front of the knee when it's bent and causes a tear to the ligament. Collateral ligament injuries are caused by a force that pushes the knee to the side. It's often from a direct blow and is usually sports-related. 

Tears like a meniscal tear happen during sports due to twisting, cutting, pivoting, or being tackled. Tendon tears happen when the quadriceps and patellar tendons are torn or stretched out of place and happen most to middle age and older individuals. 

Knee bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursae, a small sac of fluid that cushions the knee joint allowing ligaments and tendons to move smoothly over the joints in the knee. 

Why are knee injuries common?

Knee problems are common because people use their knees all day, whether walking, running, dancing, playing, and so much more. Additionally, the knees are strong but can take damage with the wrong movement, and sometimes a wrong move may be unavoidable. The knee is made of many parts, and all of the parts are susceptible to injury from different forms of movement. 

How do I know what type of knee injury I have?

While you may be determined to figure out what injury you have sustained, it's best to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Once the problem is found, doctors can help to set up a recovery plan. 

How do I know if my knee injury is serious?

Watch for symptoms in the knee that can signify a serious condition that requires medical attention. Signs to look for are sudden intense pain, swelling, stiffness, bruising, redness, tenderness, a popping sound, difficulty walking, instability of the knee, an inability to bend the knee or straighten the knee. Also, look for a clicking or crunching sound with movement. 

If you see any of these signs, it's time to visit your doctor. However, if you experience some extreme symptoms, then you may need to go to the emergency medical services. Look for extreme pain, swelling, large wounds, a deformity of the knee, the popping sound, and an inability to put weight on the leg or straighten the leg, and knees buckling during movement. 

What is the most common chronic injury in the knee?

Unfortunately, many problems can contribute to chronic knee issues. Some issues that can lead to chronic knee injuries are obesity, gout, degenerative tissue disorders, bacterial infection, also called cellulitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and repeated traumas. 

What are the most common knee injuries from running?

One of the most common problems for runners is runner's knee which is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome. This happens from overuse that causes irritation to the cartilage around the kneecap. 

Another common issue is IT band syndrome or iliotibial band syndrome. It includes a sharp pain isolated above the knobby part of the knee. The thick fibrous tissue runs down the leg and glides over the knee joint. When it's tight or strained from overuse, it can rub on the wrong parts causing pain and inflammation. 

Patellar tendinitis, often called jumpers knee, can cause pain to the front of the knee and may only be felt when exercising or chronic. The patella is a ligament that connects to the kneecap and can become injured from overuse like running.

Meniscus damage is a separation of the tibia and femur which can reduce stability and cushion. Often it's caused by a single trauma but can also happen over time with multiple mini traumas. 

Finally, knee osteoarthritis includes stiffness, ache, and swelling that is often attributed to runners as normal wear and tear. A few other conditions may be related to runners, such as ACL, PCL, and issues to the cartilage and tendons. 

Is it OK to run with a knee injury?

Do not run if you have pain in your knee, as it can cause injury or worsen existing injuries. If your knee hurts, do not make it worse by applying more pressure to the area. Instead, it's best to visit your doctor and find out if you have a passing problem or an area that requires serious attention. 

However, some people who run often will experience twitches of pain or discomfort but understand their bodies better than others. These people may be able to continue running through the pain but know when to stop and not push themselves. When in doubt, seek medical attention to avoid issues that can severely disrupt your day-to-day life. 

How long do knee injuries from running take to heal?

As with all injuries, you need to give your body time to heal when you injure your knee. Also, many people have different levels of injury, pain, and discomfort. On average, you can expect your knee injuries to take a minimum of two weeks to three months to heal well enough to start running again. First, however, you will need to follow your doctor's advice and follow the healing plan to achieve proper healing and to prevent future injury to the knee.

Some minor issues can take only a week to a month to heal, while other more major injuries may require a full year to heal. Ligaments and tears can take about a month to two months, while an ACL or PCL tear can take up to 7 to 9 months and may require surgery. Talk to your doctor about your particular issues to find out how much time you will need to recover. 

Are knee injuries common in weight lifting?

Weight lifting does not cause as many injuries as other sports but can still cause knee injuries when the joint experiences stress. Moreover, weight lifting can lead to ACL tears, PCL tears, and IT band syndrome. Overall, weight training is safe for knees as long as the person uses the proper form. Avoid sudden twisting movement, improper alignment, and be mindful of pre-existing injuries to avoid injuries to the knee when weight lifting. 

Can you lift weights with a knee injury?

The goal of weight lifting is to increase physical wellness, but this may not be possible with injury. If you have trauma to your knee, speak to your doctor or a physical therapist before lifting weights to prevent further complications to the knee. Both will be able to help you find modifications so you can continue lifting weights without applying additional pressure to the knees. 

How do I protect my knees when lifting weights?

The first and foremost step to protecting your knees while weight lifting is to wear the right shoes. Old worn-out shoes will put you at a disadvantage and cause issues. Keep your shoes in good condition and replace them when they are worn out. 

Next, stretch before working out to wake up your body and promote blood flow while loosening the muscles. Avoid excessive strain and stress by avoiding movements that cause discomfort to the knees. Additionally, learn proper techniques that will help to protect not just your knees but your entire body from damage and injury. 

Furthermore, you can strengthen the muscles around your knees to help take the weight off the knee and put the weight where it belongs. Adding weight slowly can benefit your needs as well as it allows the muscles around to gain strength slowly. Lastly, add low-impact exercise to your repertoire to counterbalance the weight lifting and allow your muscles to move slowly.  

Why visit an urgent care for knee injuries?

Visit Portland Urgent Care for knee injuries can reduce wait time and costs compared to an emergency room. Also, urgent care can run the appropriate tests to find out what happened to your knee and help to treat the problem appropriately. By addressing the problem at the onset of symptoms can help to recover quickly by fixing and immobilizing as soon as possible. 

At Portland Urgent Care, a doctor will assess the injury to the knee, including range of motion, strength tests, stability tests, and specialized tests. From there, they can determine the issue, a solution, and get you on the road to recovery. Delaying medical attention for a knee injury can cause lifelong issues and unnecessary discomfort. 

Conclusion

The knees help with movement, walking, exercise, and so much more. However, they are prone to injuries, especially from trauma or sudden movements. Portland Urgent Care offers a knee pain relief team to treat a variety of knee injuries to get you healed and ready to enjoy life again. Call and schedule an appointment or walk-in for a same-day appointment so you can end your knee pain today.

Written by

Dr. Mark Hosko, MD

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