Athletes use and abuse their bodies more than the average couch potato. Undoubtedly, they are in much better shape because of the time and effort they put into keeping in shape. Sometimes, however, your knees just cannot keep up with the constant pounding, pressure, and twisting required to perform at the top level. There are often effective and safe non-surgical procedures, as well as surgical care with the goal to regain the quality of life you are accustomed to living.
Athletes are more likely to suffer from knee injuries simply because of repeatedly overusing them by running, lifting, jumping, etc. Their poor knees can fall victim to any of the following conditions:
- The Medial Collateral Ligament or MCL tear. This ligament connects the tibia and femur on the inside of the leg while resisting force on the outside of the knee.
- The Medial Collateral Ligament or LCL is the ligament that connects the tibia and the femur on the outside of the leg while resisting force on the inside of the knee.
- ACL tears. Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears can occur if you twist your knee or bend it side to side or even hyper-extend your knee while exercising or participating in any physical activity. There are four main ligaments in the knee and the ACL is one of the four. The ACL connects the shin bone and the thigh bone and helps keep the knee from becoming hyper-extended. The ACL aids in preventing any abnormal joint movement. Signs that you may have injured your ACL include a loud popping sound that happens when the injury occurs, feeling like the knee gives out, and extreme swelling right away or within 24 hours.
- The Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL tear. An injury that occurs when direct force is administered to the front of the bent knee. This is a common injury while playing football or soccer. Symptoms of a PCL tear are a little more subtle than the ACL. There is swelling behind the knee and within 24 to 48 hours there will be bruising, pain, and some instability.
- Tear in the meniscus. This injury occurs when the knee is bearing weight and rotating at the same time. Symptoms from a meniscus tear can be felt immediately and include pain and swelling. A meniscus tear can reveal itself later on as well, and can be identified by a popping sound or weakness in the knee.
- One of the most difficult injuries to heal in the knee is damage to the cartilage. Blood supplies can help repair damage but in this case, cartilage does not have a blood supply. Cartilage works as a cushion to absorb force placed on the knee. It gives the bones a surface to glide against each other. Symptoms to look for when the cartilage is damaged or not present is increased swelling, pain, or limited range of motion.