Although they’re the largest joints in your body, your knees encounter a lot of stress and strain during a normal day.
That’s amplified in any sport that requires running, jumping, or quick changes in direction. This activity greatly increases your risk of a knee injury, which can put you on the sidelines for a game or the rest of the season.
Dr. John S. Michels is a pain management specialist with a busy practice in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. As a previous NFL champion, he also has personal experience with sports injuries and the pain they cause.
Read what Dr. Michels says about your knee anatomy and the symptoms of four common knee injuries.
The knee is a very complex hinge joint that includes the thigh bone, shinbone, and patella (kneecap).
Cartilage covers the ends of the thigh and shin bones and the back of the patella. This slippery but tough tissue helps the bones glide smoothly without friction as you bend or straighten your knee.
Another type of cartilage (meniscal) forms two wedge-shaped pads where the thigh bone meets the shinbone. These rubbery structures (the meniscus) provide a natural cushion between the two bones and help stabilize the joint.
Held together by a collection of ligaments that connect bone to bone and tendons that attach muscle to bone, the knees are the most easily injured joints in the body. Along with moderate to severe knee pain, these injuries can make it difficult to participate in your sport.
Knee injuries sustained during sports may affect the bones, cartilage, or soft tissue structures and can include:
The anterior cruciate ligament connects your thigh bone (femur) to your shinbone (tibia). Quick pivots in direction or landing awkwardly from a jump during sports such as soccer, football, and basketball can tear the ACL.
Although an ACL injury is likely the most common, other knee ligaments are also vulnerable to injury during sports.
Sometimes referred to as “jumper’s knee,” patellar tendinitis is typically an overuse injury that’s common in sports that require frequent jumping, such as volleyball or basketball.
Related to stress on the patellar tendon that occurs over time, symptoms are typically gradual in onset and may include:
Also common in sports, meniscal tears are typically caused by a sudden twisting injury or significant blow to the knee. They often occur in combination with ligament injuries and may cause symptoms such as:
The iliotibial band is a band of fibrous connective tissue that extends from the hip down the outer thigh to the shin. Often characterized as an overuse injury and occurring in runners and cyclists, iliotibial band syndrome can cause:
After diagnosing the cause of your knee discomfort, Dr. Michels creates a customized treatment program that may include physical therapy, steroid injections to reduce inflammation, nerve blocks to reduce pain, and/or regenerative medicine therapies such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injections to promote healing
For an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing your knee pain, or any of the other conditions we treat, and outstanding care that’s designed to get you back in the game, schedule a visit with Dr. Michels today.