You can injure your knee in many ways, and each may have a different effect. That’s because your knee joint is a complex structure of bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues. While a swollen knee is the first indication of an injury, how it plays out depends on the actual injury. Call Redefine Healthcare knee injury doctor Dr. Freeman for an accurate assessment and effective knee injury treatment.
Knee injuries can strike because of added stress on your knees, as well as normal wear and tear, which means that the older you get, the more likely you are to injure a knee.
At the same time, you can develop a torn tendon or ligament from twisting your leg while involved in any activity from aerobic dance to a pick-up basketball game.
Knee pain usually occurs when you damage the cartilage or the knee joint.
Signs that you’ve injured your knee include:
- A swollen knee that’s painful
- Inability to bend or fully straighten your knee
- Popping or cracking sounds whenever you move your knee
- A knee that gives way suddenly
- Loss of muscle strength and flexibility
- Redness and warmth to the touch
Common Causes of Knee Pain
You can injure a knee from a direct trauma, wear and tear or an awkward twist. Other conditions tend to weaken your knee, making it more susceptible to injury.
Factors that may make it easier for you to suffer a knee injury include:
- Being overweight. Obesity causes your knees to buckle under the extra weight, especially when you climb stairs. When you carry extra weight, your muscles tend to become less flexible and actually lose strength when you’re not exercising. As a result, your knees may feel jerky and unstable, and that feeling can contribute to an injury.
- Playing sports. If you love playing sports, the jumping, bending, kicking and twisting may cause problems with your knees. It’s especially dangerous if you overdo it or take up a physical activity after being inactive for a while. Certain sports, like running and jogging, are especially hard on your knees.
- Working at certain jobs. Your job may be hard on your body, including your knees. Knees often develop problems if you tend to carry heavy objects for long distances. If you have to bend your knees to squat or kneel constantly while you work, you can end up with knee problems and injuries. Scrubbing floors and gardening can cause a knee injury.
- Other factors. Wearing improper shoes for your activities — whether it’s playing a sport, walking for exercise or doing chores around the house — increases your chances of suffering a knee injury. Previous knee injuries also increase your risks.
Injuries that Cause a Swollen Knee
A swollen knee is often the first sign of a knee injury. When you consult your local joint specialist or knee injury doctors at NJ center for pain management, your knees are thoroughly examined. This helps your knee injury specialist determine why you need treatment for a swollen knee.
Injuries that end up causing swelling in your knees include:
- Fracture. You can fracture a bone from a fall, a car accident or a direct hit while playing sports. Osteoporosis weakens your bones enough to cause a fracture.
- Sprained knee. You may sprain your knee because of too much physical activity for which you’re not properly prepared.
- Meniscal injuries. The meniscus, which is the cartilage that circles your knee joint, may tear if you suddenly twist your knee.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome. This pain is due to damage to the kneecap and the surrounding cartilage.
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. When you suddenly twist or change directions, you can suffer an ACL injury. Playing soccer puts you at risk.
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury. A PCL injury develops from a direct hit, such as when you’re tackled in football.
- Medial cruciate ligament (MCL) injury. When you’re hit directly on the outside of your knee, the blow can damage your MCL.
- Patellar tendonitis. This condition develops when your knee tendons get irritated and inflamed. It’s often seen in athletes who run, jump, ski or cycle.
- Knee bursitis. The fluid-filled bursa keeps your knee joint operating smoothly. If they’re damaged, it causes friction between the bones and surrounding tissues.
- Loose bodies. Pieces of bone cartilage that have broken off due to an injury or accident cause problems in your knee joint.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease. This disease affects preteen and teenage boys. It causes the patellar tendon to become inflamed. In serious cases, the tendon tears away from the thigh bone.
- Dislocated kneecap. If your kneecap shifts out of place, it creates a painful condition.
- Iliotibial band syndrome. When the band becomes so tight that it irritates the thigh bone, the condition causes a sharp, burning pain.
- Plica syndrome. The bands of synovial tissues can become irritated due to overuse or injury, causing pain.
Treatment for Knee Injuries
Depending on your diagnosis, your New Jersey pain management specialist offers several recommendations. For swollen knee treatment, you need to rest, ice the injury and elevate your knee above your heart. You may need to immobilize your knee by wearing a brace to support the joint and prevent awkward knee movement.
Your New Jersey knee injury doctor recommends taking painkillers like ibuprofen or prescription medicine for severe pain. Physical therapy strengthens your muscles and increases mobility of your knee joints. For severe fractures and ligament damage, our knee injury specialists may recommend a surgery such as total joint replacement, but surgery is always the last resort. Contact your best injury doctor and knee specialists at Redefine Healthcare for a consultation.
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