Knee injuries and knee pain are widespread; in fact, over 1 million people each year suffer a knee injury, resulting in them having to take time off work.

Joint injuries, especially if left untreated, can increase the risk of Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in the UK.

Here we discuss the three most common knee injuries, along with a treatment plan and simple, clear instructions on how to rest your injuries at home.

Injuries occur either by impact or strain. The knee is the largest and most complex joint in the body, making it the most vulnerable. The knee joint is made up of –

  • Bone
  • Cartilage
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Meniscus

Each part of the structure is responsible for movement as well as weight-bearing. This means injury to any one of the above can affect the whole knee.

What are the three most common knee injuries?

ACL injuries

ACL injuries are the most common injuries sustained through sport. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. The ACL is one of four ligaments that connect your shinbone to your thighbone and is found inside the joint. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament helps stabilise your knee joint and is responsible for the back and forth motion of your knee.

Injuries to the ACL typically occur when the joint experiences a sudden “jolt”, maybe from stopping or changing direction quickly. It is a common injury seen in tennis, football and basketball players.

The other three ligaments found in the knee are called –

  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament – PCL
  • Medial Collateral Ligament – MCL
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament – LCL

Injuring one of these ligaments normally consists of a tear or strain. A strained ligament can take 6-9 months to heal, whereas a tear can take much longer and, in some cases, end a career in sport. It is very important to seek professional attention if you believe you have damaged a ligament within your knee. ACL injuries can be severe and may result in surgery. Rest at home is advised, along with a tailored treatment plan from your physiotherapist.

Meniscal tears

The Meniscus is the cartilage that acts as a shock absorber in the knee joint.
Meniscus tears are another common knee injury seen in athletes, perpetually in contact sports such as football and rugby. This is due to the nature of the damage. A tear is usually the result of twisting the joint while bearing weight, so you may also experience an injury during weight training.

The Meniscal is a C shaped tough, rubbery cartilage. If torn and left untreated, the cartilage can ”fray” and thin resulting in long term knee damage such as arthritis.

Recovery from Meniscal tears takes typically 6-8 weeks. Again, rest, ice and medication can help recovery at home. However, we recommend you are assessed by a medical professional and gain a treatment plan that suits you.

Bursitis

Bursitis is a term used for the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac called the bursa. This inflammation can be caused by infection or injury.
The “sacs” work as cushions to prevent bone from rubbing on the joint’s harder structures, such as other bones or tendons.

The inflammation of the Bursa is generally brought on by overuse or excess pressure over long periods. Often we see bursitis in gardeners and carpenters as well as athletes. Bursitis can also be a result of infection and therefore treated with antibiotics.

Other explanations for bursitis are –

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Old age

Depending on the cause, treatments can vary. You can take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen. However, it is best to seek medical attention to discover the root of the problem before considering any home remedies.

The knee is a very hard-working, complex joint. There are many reasons why you may have pain in the knee, above are just three of the leading causes. If you are experiencing knee pain and are unsure about any information provided above, get in touch with our physiotherapist today.