Treating the Largest Joint
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is the junction of two major bones (femur and tibia), connected by major tendons and ligaments (ACL, MCL, PCL, LCL). It is protected by a cap (patella) and utilizes the meniscus cartilage to provide cushion and absorb shock between the two bones. The knee is placed under incredible pressure and tension during many sports activities, from running to jumping, kicking, swinging a bat or golf club, or lifting weights. Knee pain and injuries are the number one reason patients visit orthopaedic specialists each year.
Types of Knee Injuries
Knee injuries are common in sports, especially football where players run, stop, jump, and get tackled in violent collisions.
Common knee injuries include:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) – tear of the tendon connecting the femur and tibia
- MCL (medial collateral ligament) – tear of the interior tendon connecting the femur and tibia
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) – tear of the rear tendon connecting the femur and tibia
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament) -- tear of the exterior tendon connecting the femur and fibula
- Torn meniscus – tear or rupture of the meniscus cartilage
- Patellar (kneecap) fractures – break in the kneecap
- Patellar tendon tear – rupture of the tendon connecting the patella to the tibia
- Arthritis – general wear and degeneration of the joint
Determining the particular injury to the knee will involve general and physical examination, range of motion testing and diagnostic imaging, including X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI. Orthopaedic specialists may utilize arthroscopic techniques to insert a tiny camera to view the damage to the joint.
If the injury is a sprain or strain, your orthopaedic specialist may advise RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to allow healing to take place. Pain management or anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed. Physical therapy may be recommended to return motion and strength to the knee joint.
If surgery is required to repair damaged, torn, or ruptured ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles, your orthopaedic specialist will discuss the best procedure for your injury. If damage to the knee is too extensive for repair, knee replacement, in which an artificial knee joint is inserted into the leg, may be recommended.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Arthroscopic surgical techniques, involving small incisions and small cameras and surgical tools, has dramatically improved the surgery and recovery process for athletes and other patients. Using arthroscopic technology, your orthopedic specialist can make repairs to damaged tendons, ligaments, and other knee joint elements.