What is a knee injury?

An injury to the knee typically occurs as a result of trauma, whether sudden and severe or gradual and occurring over a period of time. Sports injuries are one of the most common causes of knee injury.

Knee Problems Spotlight

Injury to the knee can involve any or all of the components of the knee joint: the bones, ligaments, tendons, menisci, bursae, or the muscles that stabilize the knee joint. Four ligaments are important in maintaining the stability and function of the knee joint, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments. The menisci (singular meniscus) are two pieces of cartilage that cushion the bones of the knee joint (the femur, or thigh bone, and the tibia, or large bone of the lower leg) permitting them to move smoothly against one another. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that serve as an extra layer of protection for the joint. In addition to the tibia and the femur, the knee joint contains the patella, the bone commonly known as the kneecap.

Symptoms of a knee injury depend on the exact type and location of the injury. The pain may be dull or sharp and occur all the time or only when participating in certain activities. Swelling, bruising or bleeding can accompany the injury. At the time of injury you may hear or feel a crack or pop. With some knee injuries, the joint may lock or even give way when you try to stand. You may notice weakness in the affected leg.

Fortunately, most knee injuries are treatable conditions. Treatment options can include anti-inflammatory or pain control medications, physical therapy, and, in some cases, surgical repair of the injury.

A knee injury can require emergency care. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as paralysis, loss of sensation, absent pulses in the feet, the inability to move the knee joint, severe bleeding, or uncontrollable pain.

Seek prompt medical care if you have any pain, soreness, or other problems with you knee, or if you are being treated for a knee injury and symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of a knee injury?

Symptoms of knee injury include pain, limitation of movement, the presence of cracking or popping sounds, instability of the knee joint, and swelling, redness, or warmth of the skin. Symptoms may be mild or severe and depend to a great degree upon both the extent and severity of the injury.

Common symptoms of a knee injury

You may experience knee injury symptoms daily o... Read more about knee injurysymptoms


What causes a knee injury?

Knee injury can be a result of a direct fall or blow to the knee, a sudden twisting motion of the joint, or stress placed on the joint from any direction. Injuries may also develop as a result of overuse. Because of the different structures that comprise the knee joint, a number of different types of knee injury can occur, either singly or in combination.

Common causes of a kn... Read more about knee injurycauses


How is a knee injury treated?

The first treatment for any knee injury involves typically rest, ice (ice or cold pack application), compression (soft compression with an elastic bandage), and elevation (keeping the affected knee elevated). These steps are commonly known by the acronym RICE. This combination of measures should bring immediate relief until medical care can be accessed and may be sufficient to treat minor injur... Read more about knee injurytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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