Knee injuries are among the most prevalent sports-related injuries. Given the complex structure of the knee, it is vulnerable to a range of injuries when subjected to abrupt movements, forceful impacts, or wear and tear. Below is a summary of common knee sports injuries and how they often present.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
What is an ACL injury?
The ACL is a key ligament stabilising the knee. Injuries range from minor sprains to full tears.
What causes ACL injuries?
Abrupt stops, sudden direction changes, forceful impacts, or incorrect jump landings.
What are the symptoms of an ACL injury?
Audible "pop", rapid swelling, pain, and instability.
What is a meniscal tear?
The medial meniscus and lateral meniscus (as well as cartilage) act as a shock-absorber in the knee. Tears of these menisci vary from minor to significant ruptures.
What causes a meniscal tear?
Sharp twisting movements, heavy squatting, or direct blows.
What are the symptoms of a meniscal tear?
Swelling, pain, stiffness, instability or a locked sensation in the knee.
Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper's Knee)
What is patellar tendinitis?
Inflammation of the patellar tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin.
What causes patellar tendinitis?
Frequent and intense jumping.
What are the symptoms of patellar tendinitis?
Pain below the kneecap, aggravated by jumping or running.
Dislocated Kneecap (patella)
What is a dislocated kneecap?
The kneecap (patella) shifts out of its normal position.
What causes a dislocated kneecap?
Direct trauma or a sudden direction change on a planted foot.
What are the symptoms of a dislocated kneecap?
Intense pain, visible dislocation, and swelling.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Inflammation of the iliotibial band running down the outer thigh.
What are the causes of iliotibial band syndrome?
Overuse, often in runners or cyclists.
What are the symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome?
Pain on the knee’s outer side, worsening with activity.
What is a knee fracture?
Breakage of knee-related bones - patella, femur, or tibia.
What causes knee fractures?
Forceful impacts or severe falls.
What are the symptoms of knee fractures?
Intense pain, swelling, and reduced knee mobility.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury
What is a PCL injury?
Less frequent than ACL injuries, it involves sprains or tears to the PCL.
What causes a PCL injury?
Direct impact to a flexed knee's front.
What are the symptoms of a PCL injury?
Pain, swelling, and walking difficulties.
What is knee bursitis?
Inflammation of the bursae sacs cushioning the knee.
What causes knee bursitis?
Continuous kneeling, direct knee hits, or bacterial infections.
What are the symptoms of knee bursitis?
Swelling, warmth, and pain in front of the kneecap.
Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligament (MCL & LCL) Injuries
What are MCL and LCL injuries?
Injuries to the ligaments on the knee’s inner (MCL) and outer (LCL) sides.
What causes Collateral Ligament injuries?
Direct force to the outer or inner knee, respectively.
What are the symptoms of Collateral Ligament injuries?
Pain, swelling, and instability.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
What is patellofemoral pain syndrome?
Pain in the front of the knee and around the kneecap.
What causes patellofemoral pain syndrome?
Misalignment, repetitive use, or sudden injury.
What are the symptoms of patellofemoral syndrome?
Dull, aching pain in the knee’s front, often worsened by squatting, climbing, or sitting.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) and Loose Bodies
What is Osteochondritis Dissecans and loose bodies?
OCD is a condition where a fragment of bone begins to separate from its surrounding region due to a lack of blood supply. This fragment, alongside small bits of cartilage, can become loose and move around within the joint, referred to as "loose bodies".
What causes Osteochondritis Dissecans?
The exact cause is still debated but could be related to repetitive trauma or genetic factors. In athletes, repetitive stress or direct blows to the knee may increase the risk.
What are the symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans?
Pain that increases with activity, swelling, stiffness, and a sensation of something moving inside the joint. In severe cases, the knee may lock.
Prevention and Treatment
Proactive measures can reduce the risk of knee injuries. These include warming up before exercise, maintaining good physical conditioning, using proper techniques, and wearing appropriate protective equipment. If an injury does occur, it's crucial to seek professional medical advice. Treatments vary based on the injury's nature and severity and may include rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), physical therapy, medication, or surgery.
Understanding the common knee injuries in sports can help athletes recognise symptoms early and seek appropriate interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can help speed up recovery and reduce the risk of longer-term complications. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a knee injury further, please contact us and book in for review.