The constant use of the lower extremities makes them an easy target for injury and pain, specifically in the knees. Walking, sitting and standing all put pressure on our knees, while most athletic activities rely on them as well. Knee pain is a common ailment that affect thousands of people in the US each year. These symptoms may be a result of the same condition or can be completely separate. It is important to determine the source of the pain in order to successfully treat these conditions.
The knee is a hinge joint that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) and the kneecap (patella). Like other joints in the body, the knee is made up of tendons and ligaments, as well as cartilage structures like menisci and bursae. The tendons and ligaments provide strength and stability and allow the knee to evenly carry the weight of the body, while the cartilage structures allow for smooth, fluid movements.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. Running diagonally through the middle of the joint, the ACL works together with three other ligaments to connect the femur (upper leg bone) to the tibia (lower leg bone). People who play sports that are likely to damage the knee -- such as basketball, football, skiing and soccer -- are at greatest risk for injuring the ACL. Only about 30% of ACL injuries result from direct contact with another player or object. The rest occur when the athlete decelerates while cutting, pivoting, or sidestepping; lands awkwardly; or plays recklessly. About half of ACL injuries are accompanied by damage to the meniscus, cartilage, bone or other ligaments in the knee.
Signs that you may have injured your ACL include pain, swelling and instability immediately after the injury, followed hours later by greater swelling and pain, limited motion, tenderness and an inability to walk comfortably.
Patients with arthritis of the knee may find relief in a number of non-surgical and surgical treatments before considering joint replacement surgery. The goals of these treatments are to relieve pain, to increase mobility and restore quality of life. Patients often undergo some combination of the following:
- Exercise and Lifestyle Changes
- Assistive Devices - Orthotics, Cane
- Injections - Cortisone, Viscosupplementation (Lubricants)
- Alternative Therapies