What Is The Medical Treatment For A Knee Injury
More serious knee injuries require medical care.
- Knee immobilization or splinting keeps the knee from moving and decreases the chance of further injury. Immobilizing the knee can help stabilize an injured knee that may not be stable due to torn ligaments. It also keeps the knee from moving to assist in resting the knee.
- Chronic knee injuries involving inflammation and bursitis may be treated with anti-inflammatories. Injections of cortisone may be helpful in these situations.
- More extensive injuries involving torn ligaments, instability of the knee joint, swelling, decreased range of motion, or fractures will require an orthopedic surgeon consultation. In the initial stages of these more extensive injuries,
- RICE therapy can still be used.
- Staying off the leg by using crutches or a wheelchair may be advised.
Brief Anatomy Of The Knee
The knee is a vulnerable joint that bears a great deal of stress from everyday activities, such as lifting and kneeling, and from high-impact activities, such as jogging and aerobics.
The knee is formed by the following parts:
Tibia. This is the shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.
Femur. This is the thighbone or upper leg bone.
Patella. This is the kneecap.
Each bone end is covered with a layer of cartilage that absorbs shock and protects the knee. Basically, the knee is 2 long leg bones held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There are 2 groups of muscles involved in the knee, including the quadriceps muscles , which straighten the legs, and the hamstring muscles , which bend the leg at the knee.
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. Some ligaments on the knee provide stability and protection of the joints, while other ligaments limit forward and backward movement of the tibia .
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Lcl Tears
Consider asking the following questions when you see your healthcare provider:
- What grade is my LCL tear?
- Whats the best treatment for me?
- How long should I use crutches?
- How long should I wear a brace?
- How soon can I return to sports?
- Do I need physical therapy?
- What dosage of NSAIDs should I take?
- Do I need surgery?
- What exercises or stretches are safe?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
LCL tears can bench athletes for three to 12 weeks, or even longer. Although you may be anxious to return to play, its important to see your healthcare provider for a complete evaluation if you tear your LCL. With treatment, rest and rehabilitation, youll heal and reduce your risk of re-injury. Talk to your healthcare provider about additional ways to protect your knees.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/19/2021.
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Diagnosing Inner Knee Pain
If you experience consistent pain, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will ask questions about the pain and other symptoms and will perform a physical examination with special tests specifically for the knee.
He or she may also order a diagnostic test, such as an MRI or X-ray for more conclusive results or ruling out certain injuries. It is also important for your doctor to rule out other possible issues such as a low back injury-known as lumbar radiculopathy.
Burning Pain When Sitting Still
Some people feel more pain at night than during the day.
You might feel more pain when youâre sitting still. Some of us are just too busy to monitor pain. We need debilitating pain to tell us to slow down and be still.
So when you sit down and take a break, do not be surprised if the little niggles of pain begin to visit you.
Your nightly knee pain can also come from reduced hormone signals. When you rest, your hormone signals are reduced. These reduced hormone signals give way for pain signals to reach the brain.
So youâll feel pain as you try to nod off.
Your blood vessels may also be the culprit for pain at night. When you sleep, your blood vessels increase in diameter. This is a natural process that allows more blood to come to muscles, allowing them to heal.
However, those expanding blood vessels can put pressure on your nerves. This will cause pain such as pain in your knee even as you try to sleep.
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Making A Diagnosis Of Pain In Outer Side Of Knee
You should see a specialist sports medicine doctor for a diagnosis and management plan.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your condition. Next, they will examine limb alignment, the knees range of movement, and the ligaments stability related to lateral knee pain. In addition, careful palpation of all the relevant anatomy, such as the joints and tendons, is vital. Finally, your doctor may want to perform investigations to confirm a diagnosis. Weight-bearing x-rays will assess the degree of arthritis. MRI scan uses strong magnets to examine joint, tendon, and ligament structure. Sometimes, ultrasound is used to view the structure of tendons in more detail.
Causes Of Medial Knee Pain
Various factors cause Medial knee pain that varies from person to person. But sports injuries, falls, and sudden increase in knee activity are common causes of pain. In children, the causes of medial knee pain may be different from those in adults. For example, patellar tendonitis, patellar subluxation, and Osgood-Schlatter disease are the most common causes of this pain in children. Besides, the leading causes of medial inside knee pain are related to anatomical damage to the inside of the knee, some of which are described below.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lcl Tears
The symptoms of an LCL tear include:
- An unstable feeling. Your knee might feel like its about to give out or buckle or lock up.
You might find that the sensation of being unstable on your feet continues after youre walking again. While not unusual, its a good idea to tell your healthcare provider about it. Such instability can feel a little scary since you might fear injuring yourself again.
Symptoms Of Knee Pain On The Side
Most people experience some kind of knee pain at some point in their lives. While usually not serious, knee pain can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. It is important to be aware of the different types of knee pain and their causes in order to get the proper treatment.
One type of knee pain is lateral knee pain, which is felt on the outside of the knee. This type of pain is often caused by overuse, such as from running or playing sports. It can also be caused by an injury, such as a ligament tear or tendonitis. Sometimes, lateral knee pain can be a symptom of arthritis. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a few days, it is important to see a doctor or physiotherapist for an evaluation.
Another type of knee pain is medial knee pain, which is felt on the inside of the knee. Medial knee pain is typically caused by overuse as well, but can also be caused by an injury or arthritis. As with lateral knee pain, if the pain is severe or does not go away after a few days, it is important to seek medical attention.
Knee pain can also be indicative of other problems, such as a meniscus tear, Bakers cyst, or patellar tendinitis. These conditions can cause pain on the side of the knee, as well as other symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving the knee. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an evaluation.
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Causes And Risk Factors
Several different risk factors can make you more likely to develop chondromalacia patella in your knee. Individuals who are overweight are at greater risk due to the increased amount of stress placed on the joint. Females and people with a previous injurysuch as a fracture or dislocationto their knee cap are also more susceptible.
Often informally called runners knee, chondromalacia patella is also more frequently seen in individuals who participate in endurance sports like running or biking. In this situation, muscular imbalances that cause the knee cap to track improperly in the femoral groove may lead to repetitive rubbing and irritation.
You Cant Put Weight On 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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Unable To Bear Weight
In some situations, you may be left unable to bear weight through your knee. Often times this is the case after a ligament sprain or a tendon strain.
Because these structures add stability to the joint and prevent excessive movement, when they are damaged you may experience shifting in the knee or giving way when you try to put pressure on your leg. The severity of the issue may impact how frequently these sensations occur.
In addition, some types of fractures can also make it very painful to put pressure through your leg. Regardless of the cause, imaging is usually appropriate to determine why bearing weight is so difficult.
How Can I Prevent Knee Pain
Although you canât prevent all injuries, you can take these steps to make them less likely.
- Stop exercising if you feel pain in your knee.
- If you want to make your workout more intense, always do it gradually.
- Stretch your legs before and after physical activity.
- Use kneepads to prevent bursitis, especially if you have to kneel a lot.
- Wear shoes that fit well and offer enough support.
- Keep your thigh muscles strong with regular stretching and strengthening.
- If youâre overweight, work to drop some pounds so thereâs less stress on all of your joints, including your knees.
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Prevention Tips For Knee Injuries
- Warm up joints and muscles by gently going through the motions of your sport or activity and stretching muscles.
- Wear appropriate footwear.
- Avoid sudden jarring motions.
- Try to turn on the balls of your feet when youre changing direction, rather than twisting through your knees.
- Cool down after exercise by performing light, easy and sustained stretches
- Build up an exercise program slowly over time.
Causes Of Outer Knee Pain
Outer knee pain may be caused by a number of things. For example, you may have some damage inside your knee or swelling of a band of fibrous tissue that runs down from your hip to your knee. These things may happen because you:
- have a sports injury
- overused your knee during exercise
- get older
Outer knee pain is more common if:
- youre a distance runner or run a long distance each week
- youre an inexperienced runner or suddenly increase the distance and frequency of your runs
- you cycle
- you have an injury that pushes your knee outwards
- you do activities that involve twisting your knees or squatting
- youre knock-kneed or bow-legged, both of which place a strain on your outer knee
You can access a range of treatments on a pay as you go basis, including physiotherapy. Find out more about physiotherapy >
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What Are Risk Factors For Knee Injuries
Accidents happen, and injuries occur on the football field, on the basketball court, on the soccer pitch, and in daily life. Often knee injuries cannot be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping fit, staying strong, and stretching may be helpful in minimizing the risk of many injuries, including those that involve the knee.
Imbalances of muscles that surround and support the knee can lead to knee injuries. If either the quadriceps or hamstring muscle groups become weak, the stability of the knee and ability to withstand an injury is decreased.
Similarly, an imbalance between muscles within the quadriceps muscles of the thigh may cause the kneecap to track improperly, causing patellofemoral syndrome or increasing the risk of patellar dislocation.
Pregnant women are at higher risk for knee injury and pain because of increased weight, the body’s shifted center of gravity, and hormonal changes that can weaken ligaments and make them more lax.
The knee joint absorbs a significant amount of the force that is generated with each step with walking or running. People who are significantly overweight may develop knee pain because of the excess weight that needs to be supported.
What Types Of Doctors Treat Knee Injuries
Often, knee injuries are cared for by primary care providers who have the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat many of the common knee injuries that occur. Orthopedic surgeons are involved in knee injury care to determine whether surgery might be required. They are also the specialists to perform the surgery. Physical therapists have an important role in the treatment of knee injuries regardless of whether surgery is required.
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What Are Lcl Tears
A lateral collateral ligament tear is a knee injury that causes pain, swelling and bruising. Your LCL is a band of tissue located on the outside of your knee . This tissue connects your lower leg bones to your thigh bone. It stops your knee from bending outward abnormally.
Athletes in sports like football, soccer and skiing are at higher risk for LCL tears, which can prevent you from competing. However, with time, treatment and rehabilitation, you should be able to play some sports again.
Gradual Onset Medial Knee Pain
Gradual onset or chronic knee pain develops over time. You will probably not be able to pinpoint the exact time your injury occured. Overuse is a likely cause, resulting in wear and tear or degeneration.
Chronic medial knee pain can also develop following an acute injury which is not treated properly. As a result, it fails to heal properly.
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Patellar Tendonitis And Tear
Patellar tendonitis is inflammation of the patellar tendon. Thatâs a large tendon connecting your kneecap to the top of your tibia.
Patellar tendonitis is most common in athletes who do a lot of running and jumping. Itâs often described as a constant dull pain that becomes sharp when youâre active.
In some cases, a weak patellar tendon can tear. A patellar tendon tear causes:
- Severe pain
- Swelling over the knee
- A tearing or popping sensation
If itâs a bad tear, you might notice an indentation at the bottom of your kneecap. The knee may give out when you walk.
Lateral Tibial Plateau Fracture
The tibial plateau is located at the top of the shin at the knee. A break on the outer or lateral part of the tibial plateau can cause considerable knee pain. A lateral tibial plateau fracture is often the result of a vehicle accident or a bad fall that impacts the outer knee directly.
If the bones are still aligned, surgery may not be required to treat the injury. If not, you may need surgery to place the affected bones in their proper position and secure them with screws or plates.
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Possible Causes Of Pain
Quadriceps tendonitis this is caused by the irritation, strain or injury to the quadriceps tendon.
This affects the underside of the kneecap and the trochlear groove in the femur in which it moves. When the articular cartilage covering the surfaces of the bone wears away and becomes inflamed the bones come into contact with each other resulting in pain.
A plica is the fold in the thin synovial membrane that lines the knee joint. There were four of these folds in the knee joint originally, but they often become absorbed during foetal development. About 50% of the population is thought to have the remains of the embryonic plicae. When a plica becomes inflamed, perhaps because of repetitive knee movement, trauma or twisting, it causes pain and weakness in the knee.
Lateral patellar facet overload syndrome
This refers to dull aching pain underneath, around the sides or below kneecap. It is caused by increased pressure on the lateral facet of the patella. The reason for this is improper tracking, poor alignment or dislocation of the kneecap. The condition is often apparent during repetitive exercise such as climbing stairs.