The knee is a complex joint, consisting of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It is susceptible to many types of injuries, especially in athletic or active people. Being aware of what knee injuries you’re at risk for in your sport or activity of choice is important to preventing a knee injury.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) connect your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia) and are susceptible to injury in most sports that involve running and stopping abruptly or contact with other players. The MCL (medial collateral ligament) is found on the inner part of the knee and connects the tibia to the femur and is also at risk of injury when playing certain sports. The meniscus is the cartilage between the femur and the tibia that acts as a shock absorber.
Basketball Knee Injuries
Quick stops, starts, and changes of pace during a game of basketball can cause a torn or strained ACL. Stopping too suddenly or changing directions abruptly or jumping and landing too hard will all take a toll on this major knee ligament.
Another common injury that occurs in basketball players is a meniscal tear. It occurs when the knee is twisted, typically when someone lands too hard on the floor or when one player’s foot lands on top of another player’s foot.
To prevent these kind of basketball knee injuries, athletes must warm up first and stretch their calves, thighs, and hips. Exercises such as lunges and squats will help strengthen the muscles around the knee, helping to prevent injuries.
Soccer Knee Injuries
Pivoting, sudden changes of direction, abrupt stops, and landing incorrectly are common actions in soccer that put major stress on the knees, not to mention the condition of the field or the use of artificial turf, which puts an even greater strain on the knees.
The most common soccer knee injuries are ACL and meniscal tears, which can often lead to an early end to the season for players due to the need for surgery. The risk of ACL injuries is highest in women.
The best ways to prevent soccer knee injuries are warming up, stretching, and muscle strengthening. Practicing changing directions while running and agility exercises are also great ways for soccer players to prevent injuries.
Football Knee Injuries
Knee injuries are very common in football due to tackling, falling, and resisting a tackle. The ACL and the PCL are both at risk from these actions. A meniscal tear can occur when the knee is twisted too much. This often happens when the football player’s foot is planted on the ground but their body is rotated forcefully by a tackle.
Again, the best ways to prevent football knee injuries are to strengthen the muscles in the legs, always warm up, and stretch. Many players wear knee braces for prevention as well, although there is no conclusive data on injury prevention.
Hockey Knee Injuries
The MCL is most likely to be injured when playing hockey. An injury to the MCL is typically caused by an impact to the outer part of the knee.
In a perfect world, the best way to prevent a hockey knee injury is to just not get hit or kicked in the knee. In reality, that’s not always possible. Strengthening and conditioning the muscles around the knee is the best way to ensure a stable knee joint and prevent injuries.
Other Knee Injuries
Fractures – Any bone in the knee can be fractured, but the most common is the patella, or kneecap. Knee fractures are typically caused by a fall or impact, but people with osteoporosis can fracture their knee just by stepping the wrong way or tripping.
Dislocations – Knee dislocations occur when one or more of the knee bones slip out of place or alignment.
Bursitis – There are small fluid filled sacs called bursae that act as a cushion in the joint, allowing the tendons and ligaments to slide easily. Bursitis occurs when the sacs swell and become inflamed, usually from overuse of the knees or repeated pressure from kneeling.
Tendonitis – Also known as patellar tendinitis, this is inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. It is a common injury among athletes who jump frequently, but also occurs in anyone who is physically active.
Iliotibial Band Synrdome – The iliotibial band is located on the outside of the knee, and this injury occurs when the band rubs against the outside of the knee joint. This injury is very common among long-distance runners.
Knee Specialist Birmingham AL
As mentioned before, warming up, stretching, and strengthening the muscles around the knees are the best ways to prevent injuries. Always listen to your body if you are injured. Not seeking treatment or giving your knee time to heal from an injury will result in more damage. The team at OrthoExpress is available 7 days a week to help diagnose and treat any knee injuries you may be dealing with. We are located at 104 Chelsea Point Drive Chelsea, AL 35043 and can be reached at 205-677-0001.