Although relatively small in terms of size, the knees are incredibly complex joints that allow for all different types of movement including walking, running and jumping. This ability is dependent upon the proper functioning of the joint, which includes bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments and more. Unfortunately, all of these moving parts mean that various types of knee injuries are quite common, both in people who are regularly active like athletes, as well as others who can experience injury as a result of overuse or regular activity. There are five main types of knee injuries that occur. Each may vary in terms of severity which can impact treatment. Because injuries to the knee often produce no visible evidence or very little, symptom identification can be critical to determining what type of injury is present.
Sprains: Perhaps the most common type of injury that can occur in the knee is a sprain, which affects the ligaments found inside. When a sprain occurs, stretching or tearing is the cause. Precisely how much a ligament stretches or tears determines the severity of the sprain and accordingly, what type of treatment is necessary. ACL injuries can involve sprains (the ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament), but there are four main ligaments found in the knee that can be affected. For instance, although less common, PCL and LCL injuries do occur. Necessary for stabilization of the knee, an MCL injury related to a sprain may produce more problematic symptoms in terms of mobility, although this knee ligament is less frequently damaged. Symptoms of knee ligament injuries can vary depending on severity, but in most cases, pain is the most common symptom. Depending on which ligament is affected, mobility may be impacted and stability issues may present. Localized discomfort may be evident in these types of knee injuries, with the affected area feeling tender to the touch.
Strains: Similar to a sprain but affecting a different part entirely, strains are related to stretching and over stretching of tendons found in the knee. Most of the time, muscle tendon injuries are caused from either hyperextension or hyperflexion, often during physical activity or exercise. Often, these types of knee injuries lead to symptoms such as pain that is present on the outside of the knee at the side, as well as some functional and movement issues as well.
Cartilage Injuries: There are two ways that cartilage found in the knee can become damaged. Both overuse and sudden acute injury can play a role in a knee cartilage injury. Most often it affects a pair of menisci, which are roundish cartilage pieces found in the knee that act to absorb shock from movement. Symptoms of these types of knee injuries can vary depending on the underlying cause. Interestingly enough, pain is not commonly a symptom of this type of damage. This is because there are no nerves or veins in cartilage that would send pain signals. Common symptoms of a cartilage injury do however include locking, tenderness with pressure or palpitation, weakness in the knee or instability.
Bursitis: Bursitis can occur throughout the body, but is very common in the knees, which has given way to the nickname “maid’s knees” or “housekeeper’s knees.” Bursitis refers to the irritation and inflammation of fluid filled sacs that can be found surrounding the joint that act to absorb shock. These sacs also help to minimize the impact of friction. Two primary bursa are located in the knee and one or both may become infected, irritated or inflamed. However there are 11 total bursae in each knee. Pain is not uncommon, and pain may be continual if bursitis is present. Mobility issues can also result from these types of knee injuries.
Fractures and Dislocations: Although fractures and dislocations represent two very different types of knee injuries, they’re categorized together here because they are both representative of more severe, more serious and often more challenging to treat injuries. Fractures and dislocations are both almost always caused from sudden, high momentum or high impact injuries and are common athletes or other very physically active people. They also can result from trauma like car accidents. Most of the time, emergency medical treatment is necessary for these more serious injuries and surgery may be indicated. Intense and severe pain occurs in the event of a dislocation or fracture. And mobility may be completely forfeit depending on the extent of the injury.
There are a great many ways in which the knees can be damaged and injured. Aside from fractures and dislocations, home care and physical therapy are the most common methods of treatment. However, an alternative type of treatment may be incredibly useful for every single type of knee injury in one way or another. And once the problem has been identified, might be worth considering for treatment, especially if symptoms are slow to resolve. Whole body cryotherapy in Toronto, a treatment that amplifies the positive healing effects of both ice baths and ice packs – has been used successfully for over thirty years for joint and muscle pain related to injury, illness and disease. In more recent years, the increase in popularity in use of the procedure in athletes has made it’s effectiveness in treating all types of knee injuries more well known. Cryotherapy pain relief is thought to come from stimulation of the immune, nervous and endocrine systems which can provide both immediate pain relief and long term measurable benefits such as inflammation reduction.