There’s nothing that reminds us how lucky we are to have good health and mobility as suddenly experiencing knee issues. These joints (which can carry up to five times our body weight) allow us to do every day essential activities such as walking, running, and going up and down stairs.
And while it’s human nature to take for granted our joints when they are working properly, it’s also common to ignore nagging aches and pains in the hopes that they will go away on their own.
Sometimes icing helps. Rest helps. Elevating your leg helps. But if you’ve done all of these and your pain doesn’t seem to decrease, you may have a serious knee injury that warrants medical attention.
Basic Knee Anatomy
The best way to go over any type of issue is to understand vital factors about it. Our knees are composed of the bottom portion of the femur (the thigh bone), the patella (the kneecap), and the top portion of the tibia (the shin bone, or the lower leg). All of these bones are held in place by tendons and ligaments. And in between all of the bones, there is cartilage.
An injury to any part of the knee can have serious consequences. For example, cartilage allows the bones to glide smoothly against each other when a person bends their knee. Arthritis can cause it to wear down, resulting in dull pain when moving your joints.
Tendons provide joint stability when you pivot or move from side to side. Overuse or a hard blow may cause them to overstretch or rupture, causing a sharp, shooting pain.
But not all injuries are created equal. Some may happen over time (such as stress fractures, bursitis, or tendinitis), while others are the result of trauma (falling or being involved in an accident).
Some may heal with conservative treatment, while others may require surgery. In order to know which category a person is in, you have to take into account the totality of the circumstances, medical history, and advice from an experienced orthopedist.
Symptoms of a Serious Knee Injury
The most common signs that you’re dealing with a serious knee injury are the following:
- You heard a popping sound or a crack. When people fracture a bone, they can actually hear the sound of it breaking at the time of injury. It’s cringe-worthy and it’s very real. If you fell or were hit hard, heard the sound of something breaking, and now are having trouble moving your knee, you may have a fracture.
- Swelling. Sometimes the swelling is obvious and accompanied by bruising and pain. Other times, it’s more subtle. If you’re unsure of whether one of your knees is swelling, compare it with the healthy knee. Any differences in size, or if it’s painful to touch is a sign of injury.
- Locked knee. This happens when you can’t either bend or or extend your leg, and it can be the result of a torn meniscus or a small fragment of bone becoming loose.
- Pain when putting weight on it. If you fractured a bone or tore a ligament, you’ll experience a sharp pain when putting your body weight on your injured knee, making it difficult or downright impossible to walk.
When should you consider knee replacement surgery?
Any type of surgery should only be considered as a last resort, and knee replacement is no exception. Sometimes, strength-training exercises, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, or cortisone injections will do the trick. Other times (or a specific type of injury, such as an ACL tear), the patient will require surgery.
There are also different types of knee surgeries: total or partial, arthroscopy, or cartilage restoration. The benefits of partial joint replacement is less bone loss and shorter recovery time. By the same token, an arthroscopy is minimally invasive. However, no two patients are the same, and only your doctor can tell you what would be best for you.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If a knee injury is affecting your life, let us help you. We’ll take into account your entire medical history and your lifestyle, to get you back to doing the things you love.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.