Knee injuries can be as simple as pain resulting from a minor fall or can be something major like a vehicular accident tearing the knee ligaments or cartilages. Sometimes, sports injuries may affect the muscles and bones of the knee joint too, and that’s when a visit to an orthopedic surgeon may be necessary.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries:
Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee are caused by the knee bending the wrong way, pushing back too far or twisting too hard, leading to overstretching and rupturing of the ligament. The immediate treatment includes protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate (PRICE).
- Protect: You should protect your knee from any weight-bearing by using crutches for a few days.
- Rest: One must stop playing any type of sports affecting the knee.
- Ice: It helps by reducing swelling and pain and quickens the healing process.
- Compress: Specialized elastic bandages help by reducing swelling and provide support to the joint and ligament following the injury till they recover completely.
- Elevate: Helps in reducing the swelling.
Exercise rehabilitation programs, wearing a knee brace or surgery are options occasionally.
ACL knee surgery is recommended in conditions where the knee gives way during daily activities, when there is a complete rupture of the ligament, when non-surgical treatment fails and for those who want to return to sports like football, rugby, tennis, boxing etc. at the earliest.
Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL) Injuries:
These injuries occur when there is a sudden force through the outer side of a bent knee, e.g. sudden twisting of knee while skiing. The first line of treatment is the same i.e. PRICE. Exercise and wearing braces depends on the degree of injury. Surgery is often not recommended for MCL tears as they typically recover within 3-4 months completely with just the PRICE method of joint care. Surgery may still be reasonable as treatment for severe MCL tears.4
A knee sprain is the result of overstretching of any knee ligaments that tear some of the fibers due to application of a sudden force through the knee or sudden twisting motion. Basic line of treatment includes PRICE and exercises. Surgery is recommended if the ligament has ruptured and the knee gives way, despite physiotherapy and rest.
Tear in the cartilage lining of the knee caused due to sudden force through the knee or sudden twisting of the knee results in a meniscal tear. It may occur gradually through wear and tear e.g. osteoarthritis. The treatment includes PRICE, exercises, knee brace, compression bandages and lastly, surgery. Surgery is recommended when exercises do not resolve the pain.
If you experience continued knee pain even after following "PRICE" or have suffered a traumatic knee injury, please visit our knee care page or contact us for more information. Our medical team will work diligently to schedule an appointment for you with Dr. Hayden as soon as possible.
Penned by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD