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How To Know If Knee Pain Is Serious

Your Knee Is Locked And You Cant Straighten It

How to Know If You Have a Serious Knee Injury or Problem

If you had a knee injury and you are not able to fully straighten the leg, you might have a locked knee. A locked knee is simply a knee that cannot fully straighten. There are different reasons a locked knee might occur. In some patients, swelling and inflammation can prevent you from fully straightening the knee. In others, a meniscus tear has flipped into the middle of the joint and is causing mechanical locking. You cannot straighten it with the meniscus in that position.

Many athletes who have a locked knee will also find it very painful to bend the knee too. They may feel sharp knee pain when bending which can occur when these bucket handle meniscus tears move.

The most common cause of a locked knee is a unique meniscus tear called a bucket handle tear. A bucket handle tear is considered a serious knee injury and will require surgery to fix or repair the tear. The reason these tears are serious is that a large piece of the meniscus tears flips over and becomes stuck in the middle of the knee joint. You need that meniscus to protect the knee. The vast majority of bucket-handle tears can be repaired. So the sooner we start the treatment process, the better the outcome might be after a meniscus repair.

What Are Risk Factors And Causes Of Flares From Bursitis

Risk factors for bursitis include gout, repetitive motion, and overuse of a joint, certain occupations, injury, rheumatoid arthritis, spine problems, and metabolic conditions such as diabetes. Gout flares can inflame a bursa, most commonly the elbow bursa, called gouty olecranon bursitis. Certain activities, such as gardening, involve repetitive motions that can cause bursitis. Likewise, occupations such as carpet laying and tile setting are risk factors for bursitis due to repetitive motion injury. Orthopedic injuries, such as an ankle sprain, can throw off body mechanics and cause bursitis of the knee or hip. Similarly, poor posture and spine problems may affect body mechanics and predispose to bursitis.

Deformities Of The Knee

The appearance of the knee can change during a flare and as damage progresses.

In RA, swelling and redness are common during a flare. In the long term, persistent inflammation can result in permanent damage to the cartilage and the tendons. This can affect the shape and appearance of the knee.

With OA, the muscles around the knee can weaken, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees can start to point toward each other or bend outward.

Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.

Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a person has.

Read Also: How Do You Sprain Your Knee

How Do I Treat My Dislocated Kneecap

The initial treatment of a patella dislocation is to have the patella reduced. This should be done on the field by the Athletic Trainer or sideline physician. Once the patella is in the proper position you will require an Xray to be sure there are no fractures present. You will need crutches and you will likely need an MRI to be sure that you did not injure the cartilage when the patella slid out of place.

How we proceed after the initial treatment will depend on whether or not this was your first patella dislocation or whether or not you have now had more than one patella dislocation. Most people with more than one kneecap dislocation will require surgery. Very few people will need surgery to treat their first patella dislocation.

The treatment for a dislocated kneecap will depend on what parts of the knee were injured when the patella came out of place. When you dislocate the kneecap you usually tear a ligament which holds the patella in place . After a traumatic patella dislocation, we have to obtain an MRI. The MRI will not only show if the MPFL has torn, but it will show if you also injured the cartilage on the patella. Many athletes will also injure the cartilage on the patella. Many cartilage injuries are small, and do not require treatment. Some cartilage injuries are larger and may require a repair to decrease the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Does A Knee Brace Help A Sprained Knee

How to Know If You Have a Serious Knee Injury or Problem

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Sprain: After knee surgery like a meniscus repair or an anterior cruciate ligament repair, a knee brace may help stabilize the joint. Initially, after surgery, a Bledsoe brace is worn. After some healing has taken place, a motion stabilizing brace can be worn during athletic activity.

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Can Knee Pain Come From Your Spine

Most people assume if they have knee pain, it is due to a problem with the knee joint. This is not always the case. While the discomfort can be due to a knee condition, it can also be the result of a disc protrusion or a pinched nerve in your lower back. Working with your doctor and a physical therapist can help determine if that is the case.

Patella Dislocation Recovery Time

The recovery time from a kneecap dislocation will depend on whether or not this was your first dislocation or your second or third. Your recovery time will also depend on whether or not you have injured the cartilage on your kneecap or patella.

  • If this was your first patella dislocation and you do not have an injury to the cartilage then we usually start your physical therapy soon after the injury. Most people who have had their first patella dislocation will not require surgery. Many athletes will be able to return to sports within 6-12 weeks after therapy has started.
  • If this was your first dislocation and you did have a cartilage injury then you may require surgery to repair the cartilage. That recovery process will take 4-6 months to allow the cartilage to heal.
  • If you have now had more than one patella dislocation then you will need to consider surgery to repair or reconstruct the MPFL ligament which holds the kneecap in place . Recovery from MPFL ligament surgery can take 6-10 months before considering a return to sports. There are other procedures available to stabilize the kneecap to prevent further dislocations. The MRI will help to guide us in determining which procedure is necessary to give you the best chance of having a stable patella.

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What Are The Different Ways To Prevent Knee Pain

Knee pain cannot be avoided, although trying out certain things may make you less susceptible to sustaining a knee injury. These include:

  • Staying slim
  • Stretching your knees or performing strengthening exercises
  • Exercising according to your body
  • Protecting the knee with knee pads
  • Using proper footwear

Exercises You Can Do To Prevent Knee Surgery

How to Tell if a Knee Injury is Serious – Yale Medicine Explains

Avoid serious knee problems by making your knees stronger with easy home exercises. Try these three targeted exercises:

  • Sit and stand: Sit upright on a sturdy chair. Squeeze a small ball between your knees so you can feel the muscles working inside your knees and thighs. While squeezing, stand up slowly. Slowly sit back down. Do two sets of 10 squeezes.
  • Step-ups: Stand sideways in front of a staircase. Hold on to the wall or banister. Put the leg closest to the stairs on the first step. Straighten the leg on the step to slightly lift your other leg. Bend the leg on the step slightly to lower your other leg. Do this leg bend 10 times and switch legs.
  • Squats: Correctly doing squats builds leg and hip strength. Stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. While your back is flat against the wall, slide down to a semi-sitting position. Hold the squat for 10 seconds and push back up using your thigh muscles. Dont squat too low.

Gentle cycling strengthens the muscles that support your knee, too. Cycling can be an ideal activity that puts little pressure on your knee joints.

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Surgery For Knee Injuries

Your doctor or physiotherapist may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for some knee injuries. You may need surgery to repair the damage to your knee especially if other treatments havent worked.

Your surgeon is more likely to suggest you have an operation if you have one of the following injuries.

  • Youve torn your anterior cruciate ligament , especially if you do a lot of sport or have also torn a meniscus. In ACL reconstruction, your surgeon will take a piece of tendon to replace the damaged ligament.
  • Your knee is still painful or locks after an injury to your meniscus. Your surgeon may repair or partially remove your damaged meniscus.
  • Youve injured your medial collateral ligament and it hasnt healed after three months of other treatments. Your surgeon may repair or reconstruct your MCL.

You may be able to have a type of keyhole surgery called knee arthroscopy to get to the damaged area of your knee.

Mpfl Reconstruction For A Patella Dislocation

The MPFL is the ligament in the knee which holds the patella or kneecap in its proper position. It is the ligament that prevents the kneecap from sliding out laterally and dislocating. If you have had recurrent patellar instability, eg. you have dislocated your patella more than one time, then your MPFL is not working or has stretched out too much to function well. In order to restore stability to your kneecap we need to consider an MPFL reconstruction. During an MPFL reconstruction, we will recreate the ligament which will stop the patella from dislocating.

In the picture below you will notice that the MPFL is attached to the kneecap and it is attached to the thigh bone or femur.

During surgery for an MPFL reconstruction, we will create a small hole in the femur. That hole will be in a very specific place. We determine where that place is by using a special x ray machine during the surgery. Once we determine where the hole is we will place your new ligament into that hole and secure it there with a screw. Now that the new ligament is attached to the femur we need to attach it to the patella. The new MPFL should have at least two attachment points on the patella. We will usually stitch or suture that new ligament against the patella. Overtime that new ligament will heal to the femur and the patella.

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Is Your Knee Bothering You

As our world is getting back to some semblance of “normal”, people are resuming activities and sports that they had stopped during the pandemic. After long periods of inactivity, we are more prone to injury.

When it comes to sporting and exercising activities, knee injuries tend to be quite a common occurrence. The good thing is that most of them do not require surgery. However, it is still important that you be on the lookout for any signs that may indicate your knee injury is serious and see a Bay Area knee injury specialist. Some symptoms to watch for are:

Is My Knee Pain Serious

Why Cant I Straighten My Knee?  Howard J. Luks, MD

In many situations, knee pain will subside on its own. Sudden knee pain is associated with more severe injuries such as torn ligaments and fractures, but no knee pain should go unchecked. Here are some warning signs of serious knee pain that warrant treatment with physical therapy near St James:

  • Difficulty walking.
  • Inability to bear weight on your knee.
  • Pain that hinders your ability to perform daily activities.
  • Chronic pain and discomfort.

Also Check: What Is Runner’s Knee

Protect Your Knees By Knowing The First Signs Of Failure

Your knees are your bodys largest joints. They carry the entire weight of your upper body. Your knees constantly bend and they take pressure off other leg bones. Because your knees are always hard at work, they experience wear and tear throughout your life. This wear and tear is deterioration, and it can be painful. Fortunately, there are some ways to treat it.

What Else Could It Be

If you are still not sure what is causing your severe knee pain, visit the knee pain diagnosis section where we help you work out what is going on by thinking about the location of the pain .

Alternatively, in the knee symptoms guide we look at other symptoms typically linked with knee pain such as pain when running or bending, knee locking, sharp pain or pain on the stairs. And remember, if you are suffering from severe knee pain, get checked out by your doctor.

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What Causes Knee Pain

Your knees may look or even act like a basic hinge, but the structure of the joint is amazingly complex. The knee joint forms where your upper leg bone and lower leg bones meet. Your kneecap is the fourth bone that makes up the knee joint. All these bones are connected by fibrous bands called ligaments. Youve probably heard of at least one of these ligaments the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL since it tends to feature prominently in a lot of well-publicized sports injuries. The other three primary ligaments in the knee are the posterior cruciate ligament , the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament .

In addition to these major joint components, your knee joint depends on tendons, muscles, and a couple of cushions called menisci to help you move freely and without pain. A covering of thick, slick cartilage protects the ends of the bones from wear and tear while also reducing friction inside the joint, helping your knee bend and flex without sticking. Damage to any of these structures can wind up causing pain and problems with the way your knee works.

When To See Your Doctor

How to Know if Knee Pain is Serious

Any incidence of severe knee pain should be checked out by your doctor particularly if:

1) Your knee looks deformed2) You cant put any weight through the leg3) Your knee movements are limited cant fully bend or straighten the knee4) You have severe knee pain, especially at night or when resting5) Your knee keeps giving way6) You feel unwell or have a fever7) There is redness or the knee feels hot8) There is major swelling around the knee9) Your symptoms persist or get worse10) You have pain, swelling, redness, tingling or numbness in the calf

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Growing Pains In Knees

Can Knee Pain Come Back After Treatment

Frequently, knee pain will occur for a short period of time and then resolve. Sometimes it can return a few weeks or months later. For chronic knee pain, it is important to get it evaluated to avoid further damage to cartilage, bones, or ligaments. Prognosis depends on the underlying causes of the pain.

With modern surgical techniques, it’s possible to relieve many of the knee pain syndromes and return to an active lifestyle.

Why Does My Knee Hurt

If you are experiencing knee pain when walking, knee pain when bending, knee pain when resting, or are hearing popping/clicking in your knee, etc., it may be a minor concern or indicator of a serious issue.

Knee pain is usually caused by traumatic injuries, repetitive motion injuries, long-term wear & tear, or tissue disorders. Below are injuries that are common causes for knee pain, but it is best to enter your symptoms into our Knee Pain Diagnosis Symptom Checker to gain a better understanding of your injury.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Knee Problems

Knee pain can affect your daily life. At times, your knees may feel pain because youve only overused the joints. These are signs and symptoms of knee problems that may need your attention:

  • Mild stiffness
  • Temporary weakness
  • Inability to fully straighten

These issues might worsen or not get better by themselves through home treatment such as rest, icing and exercise. If that happens, see a doctor. If you cant put any weight on your knee or you have extreme knee swelling , go to the emergency room.

You Cant Put Weight On It

Knee pain in cyclists: What causes it and how to fix it ...

If its immensely painful to stand or put any weight on your injured knee, theres definitely something serious going on.

Inability to bear weight after a knee injury could be caused by a fracture, bone contusion, cartilage injury or ligament tear, explains Dr. Brown. Initial treatment includes using crutches or a steerable scooter to take pressure off the injured limb and minimize additional damage to the knee.

If this sounds like you, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Dr. Brown warns that the old adage of no pain, no gain doesnt apply in this situation.

He advises seeking orthopedic evaluation as soon as possibleeven that same day if you can.

After a minor injury like a twist or fall, you might not be able to put weight on your leg immediately. Thats not necessarily a cause for alarm, but if you dont feel like youve recovered within a few minutes, this could indicate something more serious.

Its similar to when you injure a wrist or ankle. If you fall on your wrist or twist your ankle, you may experience searing pain for a moment or two. When the injury isnt severe, youre able to shake it off and resume your life after a few minutes at the most. However, if youve experienced a sprain, the pain doesnt subside. Instead, it gets worse.

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