The knee is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments, and fluid. Muscles and tendons linked to bone and each other help the knee joint to move smoothly and accurately.
This article on knee injuries is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
When any of these structures are hurt or diseased it can lead to knee problems, causing pain and difficulty walking, and often in other parts of the body too.
Knee injuries are common, especially if you take part in sports. Sometimes the bones can be damaged, but it is far more likely that you will injure soft tissues such as ligaments and cartilage (meniscus). Minor injuries can sometimes be treated with physiotherapy but if the damage is more serious, surgery may be needed.
Types of knee injuries
The most common knee injuries are:
- Sprains – overstretching the ligaments through twisting or wrenching
- Strains – overstretching the tendons or muscles
- Torn ligaments
- Torn menisci
- Bleeding in the knee joint – caused by a torn ligament
There are many ways to injure your knee, for example if:
- It receives an impact or is moved beyond its usual range of movement
- You play a sport that combines running, jumping, and stopping with quick changes in direction (such as football or netball)
- You have inflammation of the joint (osteoarthritis)
- Your knees hit the dashboard in a car accident
All soft tissue knee injuries are treated the same way. As soon as you experience this type of injury, you should follow the RICE procedure:
REST the knee at the first, then reintroduce movement gradually so you don’t lose too much muscle strength.
ICE packs should be applied to the knee to reduce swelling and bruising (use a cloth to protect the skin from ‘ice burn’).
COMPRESS the joint by bandaging it to support the injury and reduce swelling.
ELEVATE the knee and keep it supported.
You should see a specialist doctor (called an orthopaedic surgeon) for a complete diagnosis and find out what treatment, if any, is required.