Fall means more than just pumpkin-spiced flavor drinks and cooler weather. For some families, it also means fall sports. But, with sports like football, volleyball, and track, even the most careful athlete is at risk of injury. One wrong collision or sharp turn can result in sudden knee pain. Not all knee pain is the same, though – injuries like fractures and tears are treated differently than knee dislocations. How can you recognize which symptoms of pain should be taken more seriously, and when should you make the choice to see a doctor?
Knee Injury vs Dislocated Knee
While a dislocated knee could be considered a knee injury, the muscles and bones involved are completely different between the two traumas. Knee injuries are damage that occur to the knee and surrounding muscles – while a dislocated knee can include the bones connected to the knee. Common knee injuries include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
- Meniscal tears
- Tendon tears
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Collateral ligament (CL) injuries
- Posterior cruciate ligament injuries
- Dislocated kneecap – also known as patellar dislocation
A dislocated knee — not to be confused with a dislocated kneecap — doesn’t only involve the patella, it also impacts the femur and tibia which are located within your thigh and shin. A dislocated knee occurs when the entire alignment of your femur and tibia move out of place. This is different from a dislocated kneecap (patellar dislocation) which only involves the kneecap moving out of place. Dislocated knees are usually caused by traumatic events – including falls, car crashes, and other high-speed injuries.
Signs of a Knee Injury
Most knee injuries range from mildly uncomfortable to severe pain. Common symptoms of knee injuries include:
- Warm to the touch
- Popping or crunching noises
- Inability to straighten the knee
- Difficulty or inability to put pressure on the knee
Signs of a Dislocated Knee
A dislocated knee — while rare — usually involves severe pain. Common signs of a dislocated knee involve:
- Extreme pain or swelling after a traumatic event
- Obvious knee deformity
- Foot numbness
- No pulses in the foot
How to Diagnose a Knee Injury or Dislocated Knee
Depending on the severity of your knee pain, some knee injuries can be healed with ice and relaxation. Other, more severe, knee pain may require orthopedic care like braces and casts or physical therapy. If your knee pain is more than mild and lasts longer than a few days, you should visit your doctor to get properly diagnosed. Your doctor may suggest the following tests:
- An arteriogram (x-ray of the arteries)
- Examination of nerves
Mild Knee Pain
If you’re experiencing mild to uncomfortable knee pain from a twisted knee or another sprain, the best treatment option is RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate). By intermittently icing your knee, you can help reduce swelling and compressing your knee will help support it while walking. Apply ice or a cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
Severe Knee Pain
Knee injuries — including ACL, CL, fractures, or tears — will require orthopedic care to relieve pain and heal your injury. While resting and braces may be enough to heal some moderate injuries, other injuries may require surgery and physical therapy. You should talk to your doctor about your knee injury options.
There are a few options if your knee becomes dislocated. Relocation allows the doctor to move your lower leg back into position. This is typically done by orthopedic and emergency doctors. If an arterial injury is also present, then surgery may need to occur to ensure vessels maintain blood flow. To prevent further injury, your knee may require a splint or immobilizer to prevent the knee from bending and tissue becoming agitated.
Post-surgery, you should avoid putting weight on your affected leg and elevate it as much as possible. An orthopedic doctor from The Orthopedic Clinic will be able to provide the best solution for your dislocated knee – because they’re equipped to conduct x-rays, provide surgery, and create casts in-house to eliminate extra visits.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If knee pain is making life uncomfortable, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.