The purpose of the knee is to allow the legs to flex and extend so that the body can perform certain activities such as walking, kicking, running, standing and sitting. Every part of the knee is important. There are several ways to injure the knee, such as overuse of the knee without allowing adequate time to recover or an acute injury caused by a twist or direct impact to the knee.
There are many different knee injuries, some of the most common are sprains-- when the ligaments in the knee are stretched beyond their capacity and are forced to tear. A twisting injury occurs when the cartilage or meniscus is overstressed. This causes the cartilage or meniscus to pinch between the tibial surface and causing a tear in the the femoral condyle. A strain of the muscle and tendon are caused by hyperflexion or hyperextension. A direct blow to the knee will cause bursitis.
There are four bones that unite at the knee--femur, tibia, fibula and the patella. The thigh and quadriceps muscles provide balance and allow the knee joint to move. The joints in the knee are stabilized by the ligaments in the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are located on the side of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are in an X shape inside of the knee. The cartilage in the knee is called the meniscus and absorbs shocks. The bursae are sacs of fluid that surrounds the knee and cushion its range of motion.
Knee injuries typically cause pain and swelling, and it may be hard to bend the knee and put any weight on the knee. Swelling may not always occur at the time of the injury, and the knee may begin to swell after inflammation develops. In a meniscus injury, it is painful to climb stairs. In a patellar injury, it hurts to walk down stairs. If the knee is not stable, this is usually a symptom of a ligament injury. If the cartilage is torn, the knee will not completely straighten.
There is no way to eliminate the risk of a knee injury, but there are several ways to reduce it. A workout routine using muscles will stabilize the joints. Proper stable foot wear such as high-top shoes or flat shoes may also reduce the chance of knee injury. The treatment for a knee injury will depend on the type of injury. If knee surgery is not needed, physical therapy is usually required. The R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) treatment is a very beneficial way to treat a knee injury.
Certain symptoms from a knee injury are considered an emergency and will require a doctor’s immediate attention. When there is immediate swelling in the knee, or the bone appears deformed or visibly out of socket, seek medical attention immediately. Do likewise if the knee cannot bear any weight or the pain is unbearable. When there is a loss of feeling or sensation below the knee or if the ankle or foot is cold and you cannot feel the pulse in the foot or ankle, get help quick.