The knees are the largest joints in the human body, and they are some of the most likely to experience injury. For athletes, this risk is increased because of the added stress that they place on the structures of the knee.
The knee joint works as a hinge between the femur and the tibia and fibula. At the front of the knee, you have the patella, otherwise known as the kneecap. At the ends of and between the bones, you have different types of cartilage that absorb shock and prevent friction of the bones from occurring. Ligaments attach the bones together and provide stability. In addition to this, tendons from the leg muscles provide the joint with motion. As you can see, it is a complex structure with many areas at risk for injury.
Common injuries that affect the knee include sprains, strains, cartilage injuries, and fractures. But, most of all, you hear of athletes suffering from Runner’s Knee, which is an overuse injury. While many injuries stem from overuse, you also have injuries that are the result of impacts, falls, and sudden movements that cause the joint to twist or move improperly. Many experts believe that tight hamstrings place the knee at risk of injury.
Common Knee Injuries
Runner's Knee, also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is pain and irritation that occurs where the kneecap and thighbone connect. Pain strikes behind, around, or in the center of the kneecap because these two bones rub against each other, and over time, damage the cartilage and cause consistent pain. The intensity and duration of the pain varies, but it can be chronic and very sharp. Experts believe that tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps are culprits of this injury. Other causes include: prior trauma to the knee, foot issues, or skeletal misalignment. With proper attention, you can recover from the pain of Runner’s Knee.
Knee sprains and other ligament injuries are common in athletics. Many knee sprains are the result of a sudden stop or change of direction, but they also result from impacts and falls. The most common injuries to the knee ligaments include sprains to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). In addition to the ACL, athletes may also experience injury to the PCL, the MCL or the LCL.
For athletes that do a lot of running and jumping, injuries to the tendons of the knee can be quite common. For these athletes, two of the tendons that are at the greatest risk for injury are the patellar tendon and the quadriceps tendon. Injuries to these tendons could include tendinitis, strains, and partial or complete tears.
You have cartilage at the end of each bone. It helps to reduce the friction that is caused by movement. In the knee, you also have the meniscus, which is like a cartilage pad that acts as a shock absorber between the bones. Concerning cartilage injuries to the knee, meniscus tears are some of the most common. Injuries to the meniscus can occur when making a sudden turn or pivot. Injuries to the cartilage can affect the knee later in life; it increases the chances of developing arthritis as the individual ages. This is why rehabilitation is a very important factor during the recovery process.
Knee injuries can vary from the relatively minor to the serious and debilitating. Many injuries to the knee can lead to problems that will persist and get worse as the person ages. The quickness with which a person receives treatment can have a significant impact on how the injury will heal and the possibility for future injury. To prevent these problems, there are some steps that an athlete can take.
This is Part 7 of an 11 Part Series:
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Shin Splints
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Tendinitis
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Sprains
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Muscle Strains and Pulls
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Stress Fractures
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Foot and Ankle Injuries
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