What a torn meniscus means

Article featured on Mayoclinic.

Overview

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. Any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus.

Each of your knees has two C-shaped pieces of cartilage that act like a cushion between your shinbone and your thighbone (menisci). A torn meniscus causes pain, swelling and stiffness. You also might feel a block to knee motion and have trouble extending your knee fully.

Conservative treatment — such as rest, ice and medication — is sometimes enough to relieve the pain of a torn meniscus and give the injury time to heal on its own. In other cases, however, a torn meniscus requires surgical repair.

Symptoms

If you’ve torn your meniscus, you might have the following signs and symptoms in your knee:

  • A popping sensation
  • Swelling or stiffness
  • Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee
  • Difficulty straightening your knee fully
  • Feeling as though your knee is locked in place when you try to move it
  • Feeling of your knee giving way

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor if your knee is painful or swollen, or if you can’t move your knee in the usual ways.

Causes

A torn meniscus can result from any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, such as aggressive pivoting or sudden stops and turns. Even kneeling, deep squatting or lifting something heavy can sometimes lead to a torn meniscus.

In older adults, degenerative changes of the knee can contribute to a torn meniscus with little or no trauma.

Risk factors

Performing activities that involve aggressive twisting and pivoting of the knee puts you at risk of a torn meniscus. The risk is particularly high for athletes — especially those who participate in contact sports, such as football, or activities that involve pivoting, such as tennis or basketball.

Wear and tear on your knees as you age increases the risk of a torn meniscus. So does obesity.

Complications

A torn meniscus can lead to a feeling of your knee giving way, inability to move your knee normally or persistent knee pain. You might be more likely to develop osteoarthritis in the injured knee.

Diagnosis

A torn meniscus often can be identified during a physical exam. Your doctor might move your knee and leg into different positions, watch you walk and ask you to squat to help pinpoint the cause of your signs and symptoms.

Imaging tests

  • X-rays. Because a torn meniscus is made of cartilage, it won’t show up on X-rays. But X-rays can help rule out other problems with the knee that cause similar symptoms.
  • MRI. This uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of both hard and soft tissues within your knee. It’s the best imaging study to detect a torn meniscus.

Arthroscopy

In some cases, your doctor might use an instrument known as an arthroscope to examine the inside of your knee. The arthroscope is inserted through a tiny incision near your knee.

The device contains a light and a small camera, which transmits an enlarged image of the inside of your knee onto a monitor. If necessary, surgical instruments can be inserted through the arthroscope or through additional small incisions in your knee to trim or repair the tear.

Treatment

Initial treatment

Treatment for a torn meniscus often begins conservatively, depending on the type, size and location of your tear.

Tears associated with arthritis often improve over time with treatment of the arthritis, so surgery usually isn’t indicated. Many other tears that aren’t associated with locking or a block to knee motion will become less painful over time, so they also don’t require surgery.

Your doctor might recommend:

  • Rest. Avoid activities that aggravate your knee pain, especially any activity that causes you to twist, rotate or pivot your knee. If your pain is severe, using crutches can take pressure off your knee and promote healing.
  • Ice. Ice can reduce knee pain and swelling. Use a cold pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or a towel filled with ice cubes for about 15 minutes at a time, keeping your knee elevated. Do this every four to six hours the first day or two, and then as often as needed.
  • Medication. Over-the-counter pain relievers also can help ease knee pain.

Therapy

Physical therapy can help you strengthen the muscles around your knee and in your legs to help stabilize and support the knee joint.

Surgery

If your knee remains painful despite rehabilitative therapy or if your knee locks, your doctor might recommend surgery. It’s sometimes possible to repair a torn meniscus, especially in children and young adults.

If the tear can’t be repaired, the meniscus might be surgically trimmed, possibly through tiny incisions using an arthroscope. After surgery, you will need to do exercises to increase and maintain knee strength and stability.

If you have advanced, degenerative arthritis, your doctor might recommend a knee replacement. For younger people who have signs and symptoms after surgery but no advanced arthritis, a meniscus transplant might be appropriate. The surgery involves transplanting a meniscus from a cadaver.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Avoid activities that aggravate your knee pain — especially sports that involve pivoting or twisting your knee — until the pain disappears. Ice and over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful.

Preparing for your appointment

The pain and disability associated with a torn meniscus prompt many people to seek emergency care. Others make an appointment with their family doctors. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you might be referred to a doctor specializing in sports medicine or a specialist in bone and joint surgery (orthopedic surgeon).

What you can do

Before an appointment, be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • When did the injury occur?
  • What were you doing at the time?
  • Did you hear a loud “pop” or feel a “popping” sensation?
  • Was there much swelling afterward?
  • Have you injured your knee before?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Do specific movements seem to improve or worsen your symptoms?
  • Does your knee ever “lock” or feel blocked when you’re trying to move it?
  • Do you ever feel that your knee is unstable or unable to support your weight?

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What is Knee Hyperextension?

Article featured on News Medical Life Sciences

Knee hyperextension is a condition caused when the knee straightens too far, beyond the normal maximum limit of 00 and often with the joint in varus malalignment. In the properly aligned knee, the load is borne on a line running down the center of the hip, knee and ankle, but in a varus deformity (bowleg form), the line is shifted outwards and back.

The most common injuries are posterolateral joint injury and avulsion of the bone attached to the anterior cruciate ligament, and they are especially common in young children due to their softer bones. Posterior cruciate ligament, however, is rare.

Causes

Knee hyperextension may occur because of:

  • Trauma caused by impact to the front of the knee, which makes the joint move backward, putting high strain on the anterior cruciate ligament – such as when a football player faces a leg tackle.
  • Pushing the femur or patella over the tibia, the lower leg bone, for example when one slides to a sudden stop using one leg, which stresses the major ligaments within the knee.
  • Genu recurvatum: this is a deformity characterized by knee hyperextension over 5 degrees.
  • Nerve damage, such as Brain injury (congenital, stroke-induced or traumatic), or poliomyelitis, may cause hyperextended gait because of muscle (quadriceps or calf muscle) atrophy, spastic plantar flexion of the ankle, or contractures of the heel tendons.

Symptoms

The cause of hyperextension predicts the symptoms, which may be minor pain and swelling when it occurs to a trivial degree, but may consist of sharp pain, strained or torn cruciate ligaments, avulsion of bone chips accompanying such tears, and bone bruising may occur on the anterior part of the knee joint. When the injury is at the posterolateral aspect, the ACL and the PCL typically tears. The rate of strain doesn’t seem to be the major factor as anterior cruciate ligaments tears vary at all rates of strain. Genu recurvatum may present with knee pain, abnormal gait, and a lack of proprioceptive perception, which makes it difficult to tell when the terminal extension of the knee is attained.

The hyperextended knee gait is marked by various degrees of abnormality. In some, the patient can walk only with the aid of a cane or a crutch. In others with minimal weakness, the knee becomes hyperextended only when the patient walks too much or indulges in other heavy work or exercise, leading to muscle fatigue and loss of joint support. The associated ligamentary and muscle weakness and joint integrity also contribute to the final abnormality of gait, as does the presence of arthritis in the knee joint.

Another symptom is knee instability, or a feeling of giving way at the knee, in part or full, during normal activities.

Pain may be felt over the knee or to the medial side, and is caused by compression of the soft tissues by the malaligned knee, as well as on the posterolateral aspect, due to stretching of the soft tissue. In acute hyperextension injury the knee may pop and acute swelling often occurs within a few hours of the injury. The pain can become too severe for normal support of weight during walking or running.

Anatomy

The knee joint is supported on the lateral and posterior aspects by the fibular collateral ligament, and the popliteus muscle with its tendon and ligament. This complex of structures keeps the knee compartment from widening laterally, prevents dislocation of the lateral surface of the tibial component of the knee to the back, keeps the tibia from rotating, and thus prevents both knee hyperextension and genu recurvatum. The bones may show varus alignment, in some cases. A triple varus knee is caused by three factors:

  • Tibiofemoral alignment is disturbed.
  • The lateral tibiofemoral compartment separation is increased because of weak supporting structures on the posterolateral aspect of the knee.
  • The knee appears bowlegged in skeletal outline when fully extended.

In most cases both the posterolateral structures and the anterior cruciate ligament is damaged or at least weak, as following a knee injury or any other cause of muscle atrophy. Patellofemoral arthritis is another cause, but in this case the hyperextended knee gait is due to pain as well as muscle weakness.

Diagnosis

The history will offer clues to the diagnosis, such as prior knee injury. A physical examination will help confirm and grade the injury, including joint mobility, visible injury, bruising or swelling, and locking of the joint. Imaging is needed in severe injury and especially if surgery is contemplated. MRI and X-ray imaging are typically performed.

Treatment

Minor hyperextension of the knee may require only the R.I.C.E approach:

  • Rest and avoidance of physical activities that strain the knee in any way for a few weeks.
  • Ice application several times a day.
  • Compression using a knee brace and crutches for support are helpful in protecting the ligaments of the knee against any further damage.
  • Elevation to reduce edema.

Severe cases will require physical therapy, with graded exercises of the quadriceps and other hip and knee muscles. This should be done under supervision so that further injury does not occur, and full joint mobility is attained. Surgery is required to reattach torn ligaments and will again be followed by physical therapy.

Correction of the hyperextended knee gait is crucial if the deformity is to be corrected permanently, otherwise the excessive tensile force on the ligaments inside the joint and increased muscle force could increase the load on the joint capsules, especially the medial and lateral compartments. This can be harmful to joint integrity in varus malalignment.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Preventing Future Patellofemoral Pain

Article from UCSF Health

To decrease the risk of patellofemoral pain returning after surgical kneecap realignment, doctors generally recommend that you make the stretching and strengthening exercises you learned in rehabilitation part of your everyday routine.

Proper rehab will help your new kneecap attachments heal in a normal position and keep it moving smoothly in its track. To prevent rupturing your new kneecap attachments while they heal, avoid bending your knee more than 90 degrees. Try to be patient in rehab and do not rush to return to activities.

Many of the popular fitness exercises and activities put stress on your knees. To prevent patellofemoral pain it is important to learn knee-sparing exercise techniques. This can be done by dividing your activities into three components:

Daily Living

The average person takes between 12,000 and 15,000 steps a day, exerting a force between two and five times his or her body weight on the knees. After a knee injury, take it easy on your knees during the day whenever possible to save them for activities and exercise. Avoid stairs when there is an elevator, take the shortest path when walking, and consider wearing athletic shoes designed to absorb shock rather than hard-soled shoes.

Muscle Strengthening and Conditioning

Activities themselves are not a substitute for conditioning, and your need for special conditioning to prepare for activities increases with age. The best strengthening programs are low-impact and non-weight-bearing, like stationary bikes and certain weightlifting programs, which do not require the knees to absorb shock.

Recreation

Sports that require twisting and quick-direction changes put great strain on your knee. Any climbing or jumping activity where the knee is bent beyond 90 degrees puts undue pressure on the cartilage surfaces under the kneecap. To prevent injury, stick to light, non-impact activities for your recreation. If you decide to return to sports like football and basketball, a doctor should carefully examine your kneecap and test it for proper alignment.

If you plan on participating in sports, remember to take it easy during daily activities and to keep your kneecap tracking properly with stretching and strengthening exercises. Your doctor may prescribe a brace to wear during recreational activities, which will help keep your kneecap in track.

A small amount of pain is normal during physical activity, but if you feel so much pain in your knee to warrant taking a painkiller before an activity, you should consider cutting back or discontinuing that activity.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Do I Need Surgery for a Meniscus Tear?

Article on WebMD, medically reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on May 16, 2019

You have two C-shaped discs of cartilage (soft tissue) that connect your thigh bone to your shinbone. These are called menisci. They’re like shock absorbers for your bones. They also help to keep your knee stable.Athletes who play contact sports like football and hockey are prone to meniscus tears. But you can also get this injury when you kneel, squat, or lift something heavy. The risk of injury increases as you get older, when bones and tissues around the knee begin to wear down.

If you tear your meniscus, your leg might swell and feel stiff. You might feel pain when twisting your knee, or be unable to straighten your leg fully.

What Are My Treatment Options?

Treatment for a meniscus tear will depend on its size, what kind it is, and where it’s located within the cartilage. Most likely, your doctor will recommend that you rest, use pain relievers, and apply ice to you knee to keep the swelling down. They may also suggest physical therapy. This will help to strengthen the muscles around your knee and keep it stable.

If these treatments don’t work — or if your injury is severe — they might recommend surgery. To be sure, your doctor will probably have an MRI done. And they might look at the tear with an arthroscope. That’s a thin tool that has a camera and light at the end. It allows doctors to see inside your joints.

If your doctor’s exam shows your meniscus tear is mild (Grade 1 or 2), you may not need surgery. If it’s Grade 3, you probably will. Your doctor might choose to do any of the following:

  • Arthroscopic repair. Your doctor will make small cuts in your knee. They’ll insert an arthroscope to get a good look at the tear. Then they’ll place small devices that look like darts along the tear to stitch it up. Your body will absorb these over time.
  • Arthroscopic partial meniscectomy. Your doctor will remove a piece of the torn meniscus so your knee can function normally.
  • Arthroscopic total meniscectomy. During this procedure, your doctor will remove the whole meniscus.

Meniscus repair is low-risk. Complications are rare. They may include injury to skin nerves, infections, and knee stiffness. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help stave off infection. They may also recommend compression stockings to help prevent blood clots.

How Long Is Recovery?

You may have to wear a brace or cast to keep your knee stable. You’ll likely also have to use crutches for at least a month to keep weight off your knee.

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy as part of your recovery. It’ll help increase your range of motion and help your knee get stronger. They may also share some exercises you can do at home.

If you have a partial or total meniscectomy, you can expect your recovery to take about a month. If your meniscus was repaired, it may take as long as 3 months.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Partial and Total Knee Replacement: How are they different?

From Noyes Knee Institute

Strong, healthy knees are important for your mobility. Unfortunately, the knee joint is easily injured and is susceptible to damage from arthritis. Any damage or injury to the knee is painful and may limit your daily activities. Depending on which part of your knee is damaged, you may have the option of either a total or partial knee replacement.

Learn more about the difference between partial and total knee replacement to decide which is right for you.

Parts of the Knee

The knee joint consists of four bones: the femur, tibia, fibula, and patella. Four ligaments — two collateral and two cruciate — stabilize the connection of the bones while allowing movement. Menisci, or cartilage, minimizes the trauma of the femur and tibia sliding across each other, and small sacs of fluid between bones allow for smooth movement.

The knee is also divided into three distinct compartments: The medial compartment is the section of knee on the inside of the leg, the lateral compartment is on the outside of the leg, and the patellofemoral compartment is the area directly under the kneecap. A partial knee replacement is done when only one of these compartments is damaged.

Total Knee Replacement

A total knee replacement involves resurfacing the ends of the tibia and femur to remove all the damaged tissue. The damage could be deteriorated bone, cracked bone, or calcified bone as well as the damaged cartilage. Once the bad tissue is removed, metal caps are placed over the bones to recreate their original shape and size. These caps may snap on snugly or be glued in place.

With the bones recreated, the doctor determines whether the kneecap has been damaged or not. If there is damage, the underside will be cleaned, and then a plastic disc will be fit into place. Finally, plastic pacers are placed between all parts that may rub or slide against each other during movement.

Either or both of the cruciate ligaments of the knee may be removed during a total knee replacement if they are damaged. The collateral ligaments are not removed. When a cruciate ligament is taken out, the metal caps over the bones have a ridge or locking mechanism to ensure your bones do not move too far or slip out of place.

Partial Knee Replacement

A partial knee replacement requires the same resurfacing and metal caps but involves either the medial or lateral compartment. If both compartments have damaged tissue, or if the problem is within the patellofemoral compartment, a different treatment is needed.

If your knee is unstable and the bones slip to the side, forward, or backward, partial knee replacement is not an option. In addition, the anterior cruciate ligament must not be damaged for this procedure to work. No ligament is removed during a partial knee replacement.

When only one compartment needs repaired, you may consider a partial knee replacement. If your doctor deems you a good candidate for this procedure you will experience a few benefits over a total knee replacement. One of the most important benefit is that your knee will still function the way it always has because less of the joint is removed and replaced.

With a partial replacement, you may require more surgery and a total replacement in the future. One reason for this is that a partial replacement does not last as long as a total replacement. The other reason is that the remaining natural parts of the joint may become damaged as you age and require replacement too.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What you need to know about sudden knee pain

What you need to know about sudden knee pain

Article Featured on Medical News Today

The complexity of the knee joint allows it to support a wide range of movements — but it also makes the area vulnerable to a variety of injuries and chronic conditions.

Each year in the United States, about 12 million people see doctors for knee pain. Researchers found that among all people seeking medical treatment in the country between 2007 and 2011, 1.5–7.3% sought care for pain in the front of the knee alone.

Below, we describe common causes of sudden knee pain and the symptoms that tend to accompany it. We also look into the options for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Causes of sudden knee pain

Some of the more common causes of sudden knee pain are:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries. These often occur during sports that involve jumping or other sudden changes in direction. They can cause instability or prevent the knee from bearing weight.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, injuries. These can develop after a blow to the front of the knee.
  • Collateral ligament injuries. These contact injuries often happen during sports.
  • Meniscus tears. Tackles, twisting, aging, and arthritis can each damage the knee’s meniscus, its shock-absorbing cartilage. A person may feel the knee “locking” or experience discomfort going down the stairs.
  • Fractures. The three bones of the knee joint can fracture or break. The patella, or kneecap, does so most frequently.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome. Sometimes called runner’s or jumper’s knee, this mainly causes pain at the front of the knee that gets worse with climbing the stairs, squatting, or bending. It sometimes causes popping sounds or swelling.
  • Dislocation. This can occur when the thighbone, shinbone, and patella are out of alignment, due to structural problems or injuries.
  • Tendinitis. This issue, inflammation of the tendons around the joint, stems from overuse and is more common among middle-aged athletes.
  • Bursitis. Repetitive motions, like running, can cause sacs of fluid around the knee to become irritated, painful, and swollen.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease. This overuse injury is most common in teenage boys, particularly in athletes. The symptoms include soreness around the knee and pain when extending the leg.
  • Arthritis. This develops when the cartilage protecting the joints breaks down and leaves the bones rubbing against each other. It can cause swelling, stiffness, and a reduced range of movement.

Sometimes, physicians cannot identify what is causing knee pain. For about 30% of teenagers who seek treatment for pain at the front of the knee, a doctor cannot diagnose the cause.

Accompanying symptoms of sudden knee pain

In the list above, we describe specific symptoms of issues that commonly cause sudden knee pain. But in general, one or more of the following tend to accompany this pain:

  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • a clicking sound with the pain
  • pain when rising after sitting
  • pain climbing the stairs
  • pain descending the stairs
  • the knee “locking” or not bending
  • the knee giving way

The exact location of the pain can help identify the cause and the best way to treat it. For example, pain between the kneecap and the shin can be a sign of a repetitive use injury, such as from running.

Risk factors for sudden knee pain

Above, we list some risk factors for specific causes of sudden knee pain. Overall, the following tend to increase the chances of developing this pain:

  • increasing activity levels suddenly, which can put too much stress on the body too quickly
  • having poor alignment and a weak core, which can place stress on the knees
  • having weakness in one or both hips, which can lead to an uneven gait and eventual knee problems
  • having tight hamstrings and iliotibial bands, which can limit the body’s ability to recover from a workout
  • having an imbalance of strength and flexibility
  • wearing poorly fitting or worn out shoes
  • having overweight or obesity

Diagnosis and testing of sudden knee pain

Unless sudden knee pain clearly results from an injury or accident or the pain is severe, most people can safely wait for a few days before seeing a doctor. During this time, people should avoid or limit any activities that cause discomfort.

Resting, applying ice packs, and using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil), can provide relief. Symptoms may then start improving. However, this does not always happen.

A visit to a physician typically begins with a complete medical history and an overview of the person’s activity level. The doctor then manipulates the person’s leg, checking for pain, tenderness, and swelling. They also do this to assess the range of motion. To make a diagnosis, the doctor may need imaging, such as MRI scans or X-rays.

Treatment Options for Sudden Knee Pain

The treatment for sudden knee pain depends on its cause and severity. Some examples are below:

  • Arthritis. NSAIDs, physical therapy, yoga, and Pilates can help reduce pain, but if the condition is severe, a person may need knee replacement surgery.
  • Meniscus tears. When a tear is smaller, rest and over-the-counter pain relievers can help. More severe cases may require arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear or remove pieces of torn tissue.
  • Tendinitis. Thoroughly stretching the affected leg can increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and help correct alignment shifts.

When a person is in too much pain to do physical therapy, the doctor may recommend cortisone shots. These provide a degree of relief that usually allows a person to start their rehabilitation exercises.

How to Prevent Sudden Knee Pain

Wear and tear on the body is inevitable, and injuries can be hard to avoid entirely. Still, the following can help people can maintain or improve their balance, strength, and flexibility, offering some protection from sudden knee pain:

  • strengthening the core and hips
  • maintaining flexibility in the joints
  • improving alignment
  • increasing levels of activity slowly
  • wearing shoes that fit well
  • stretching regularly

Summary

Sudden knee pain is a common issue — the complex structure of the knee means that it can be injured in various ways. Often, recovery from a knee problem just involves rest and self-care.

However, people with severe or persistent pain may require physical therapy or surgery.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Frequently Asked Questions about Knee Pain

Frequently Asked Questions about Knee Pain

Article Featured on WebMD

Your knee hurts and you want to know why. Whether it’s an injury or arthritis, here are answers from an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and knee care.

Could my pain be from osteoarthritis?

Yes. Probably 95% of knee pain caused by arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by “wear and tear” on the joints. Other types, like rheumatoid arthritis, are much less common causes of knee pain.

What kind of injuries can cause knee pain?

They’re usually twisting injuries to the knee: ACL, meniscus, or ligament injuries.

What’s the difference?

The main difference between arthritis and other kinds of knee pain is there’s no trauma associated with it. A person who tore their ACL or had a meniscus injury knows exactly when it happened. With arthritis, it’s more of a dull, aching pain. It gets worse as time goes on.

Will my pain go away on its own?

It depends. Arthritis pain tends to wax and wane over time. It may not completely go away, but sometimes it feels much better. Pain from an injury improves at first, but if you’re left with a sore joint, you may not be able to do certain activities.

When do I need to see a doctor?

Everyone has a different pain threshold. If you’ve an injury and your knee swells, you need to see your doctor. Even if the swelling goes away, you need to have your knee examined — you might have injured something inside the joint. If you have arthritis pain and the bad days outnumber the good, you should see your doctor.

How do I keep my knees healthy?

I think weight control is important. Flexibility helps as well. If you take part in a sport that requires a lot of physical exertion, like skiing or tennis or soccer, you need to get in shape.

Also, when you get tired, you need to stop. Look at the rate of knee injury: It goes up in the fourth quarter or final period of a game. Just a millisecond or two of delay of muscle function can cause injury. If the muscles that protect the ligament are tired, they don’t do a good job.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Patellar (Kneecap) Fractures

Patellar (Kneecap) Fractures

Article Featured on AAOS

A patellar fracture is a break in the patella, or kneecap, the small bone that sits at the front of your knee. Because the patella acts as a shield for your knee joint, it is vulnerable to fracture if you fall directly onto your knee or hit it against the dashboard in a vehicle collision. A patellar fracture is a serious injury that can make it difficult or even impossible to straighten your knee or walk.

Some simple patellar fractures can be treated by wearing a cast or splint until the bone heals. In most patellar fractures, however, the pieces of bone move out of place when the injury occurs. For these more complicated fractures, surgery is needed to restore and stabilize the kneecap and allow for the return of function.

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What are the symptoms of knee ligament injuries

What are the symptoms of knee ligament injuries?

What are knee ligament injuries?

Knee ligaments are the short bands of tough, flexible connective tissue that hold the knee together. Knee ligament injuries can be caused by trauma, such as a car accident. Or they can be caused by sports injuries. An example is a twisting knee injury in basketball or skiing.

The knee has 4 major ligaments. Ligaments connect bones to each other. They give the joint stability and strength. The 4 knee ligaments connect the thighbone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). They are:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This ligament is in the center of the knee. It controls rotation and forward movement of the shin bone.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). This ligament is in the back of the knee. It controls backward movement of the shin bone.
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL). This ligament gives stability to the inner knee.
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL). This ligament gives stability to the outer knee.

What causes knee ligament injuries?

Cruciate ligaments

The ACL is one of the most common ligaments to be injured. The ACL is often stretched or torn during a sudden twisting motion. This is when the feet stay planted one way, but the knees turn the other way. Slowing down while running or landing from a jump incorrectly can cause ACL injuries.  Skiing, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk for ACL injuries.

The PCL is also a common ligament to become injured in the knee. But a PCL injury usually occurs with sudden, direct hit, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle.

Collateral ligaments

The MCL is injured more often than the LCL. Stretch and tear injuries to the collateral ligaments are usually caused by a blow to the outer side of the knee. This can happen when playing hockey or football.

What are the symptoms of knee ligament injuries?

Cruciate injury

A cruciate ligament injury often causes pain. Often you may hear a popping sound when the injury happens. Then your buckles when you try to stand on it. The knee also swells. You also are not able to move your knee as you normally would. You may also pain along the joint and pain when walking.

The symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury may seem like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Collateral ligament injury

An injury to the collateral ligament also causes the knee to pop and buckle. It also causes pain and swelling. Often you will have pain at the sides of the knee and swelling over the injury site. If it is an MCL injury, the pain is on the inside of the knee. An LCL injury may cause pain on the outside of the knee. The knee will also feel unstable, like it is going to give way.

How are knee ligament injuries diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask you have your health history and do a physical exam. You may also needs one or more of these tests:

  • X-ray. This imaging test can rule out an injury to bone instead of a ligament injury. It uses energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
  • MRI. This test uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed images of organs and structures within the body. It can often find damage or disease in bones and a surrounding ligament, tendon, or muscle.
  • Arthroscopy. This procedure is used to diagnose and treat joint problems. The healthcare provider uses a small, lighted tube (arthroscope) put into the joint through a small cut (incision). Images of the inside of the joint can be seen a screen. The procedure can assess joint problems, find bone diseases and tumors, and find the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

How are knee ligament injuries treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

  • Treatment may include:
  • Pain medicine such as ibuprofen
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Protective knee brace
  • Ice pack to ease swelling
  • Surgery

Key points about knee ligament injuries

  • Knee ligaments are the short bands of elastic tissue that holds the knee together. There are 4 main ligaments in each knee.
  • Knee ligament injuries can be cause by trauma, such as a car accident. Or they can by caused by sports injuries.
  • The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common ligaments to be injured.
  • Treatment may include medicine, muscle-strengthening exercises, a knee brace, or surgery.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.