The menisci are C-shaped pieces of tough tissue that rest on either side of the knee, between the thigh bone and shin bone. They help to distribute body weight across the knee and also provide stability to the joint. A meniscus tear is common after a traumatic injury, and most frequently occurs when the knee joint is bent and the knee is then twisted. Torn menisci are common in athletes and older adults whose cartilage may have worn away.
A torn meniscus causes pain and swelling, and may also be accompanied by a frequently locking joint and the inability to completely straighten the knee. Some people experience a popping or clicking sensation within the knee as well.
Treatment for a meniscus tear often begins with conservative methods such as rest, ice or over-the-counter medication. If these treatments are not effective and symptoms continue, you may benefit from arthroscopic knee surgery. During the procedure the torn segment of the meniscus is removed and the edges are trimmed to a smooth surface. Occasionally, the torn meniscus edges can be sutured together.
Recovery from meniscus surgery can take several months and depends if the tissue is sutured together or trimmed. Most patients recover well from this procedure and are able to return to their normal activities.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. People who play sports 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. 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 injury to your knee. An injury to this ligament causes the knee to become unstable.
Treatment for ACL injuries involves completely removing the damaged ligament and replacing it with a new tissue. Simply reconnecting the torn ends will not repair the ACL. A tendon from another part of the body, usually from the knee or hamstring, is used to create a graft for the new ACL. However, sometimes a cadaver tendon is used to reconstruct the ACL. Choosing the proper type of graft depends on each patient's condition.
ACL surgery requires a few months for full recovery and physical rehabilitation will be needed as well. Surgery is not required for all ACL injuries. Talk to your doctor to find out if ACL reconstruction is right for you.
The kneecap (patella) connects the muscles in the thigh to the shinbone. In a healthy knee, the patella rests in a groove in the thighbone and slides up and down as you bend and straighten your leg. Patellar instability, or unstable kneecap, occurs when the patella slips wholly or partially out of the groove. This may occur after an injury or because the groove itself is too shallow or uneven.
If your patella dislocates, you may experience one or more of the following: difficulty with walking, pain, swelling, stiffness, or abnormal motion of the knee cap.
If left untreated, patellar dislocation can lead to arthritis, knee instability and chronic knee pain. Treatment typically involves physical therapy for strengthening. Surgical reconstruction is used to correct recurrent instability.
The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of four ligaments that helps support the knee and protects the shin bone (tibia) from sliding too far backwards. While injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament are much more common, PCL injuries can account for up to 20% of knee injuries.
Injury to the PCL most commonly occurs when the knee is bent and an object strikes the shin, pushing it backwards. This injury often happens during car accidents, falls, or sports activities when the shin is forcefully pushed against a solid object.
Patients with PCL tears may experience pain, swelling and limited range of motion within the knee. Some may also experience a feeling that the knee has popped or given out, as it causes instability within the joint. While many symptoms of this injury can be relieved, instability of the joint often persists and may require more aggressive treatment. If surgical reconstruction is pursued, the technique is similar to the one used for ACL reconstruction.