Common Knee Injuries

Knee injuries can affect people of all ages but are especially common in the aging population due to degeneration. Why are knee injuries so common?  The knees support our weight and in fact, they support 3 times our weight with every step. If you weigh 150 lbs., each step you take is 800 lbs. of pressure on the knee joints.  

Whether it’s from aging, arthritis, engaging in ballistic sports such as basketball, skiing, gymnastics or other physical activities, our knees take the brunt of force and pressure throughout our daily living undertakings.  

The knee, a complex large joint in the body, consists of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons connecting to surrounding bones. This structure allows for the flexion, extension, and movement of the knee and leg.

Knee Anatomy 

  • Three bones meet to form your knee joint: your thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia) and kneecap (patella).
  • The ends of the femur and tibia, and the back of the patella are covered with articular cartilage. This connective tissue helps your knee bones glide smoothly during flexion and extension.
  • Two c-shaped pieces of meniscal cartilage act as “shock absorbers” between your femur and tibia. The meniscus is strong yet cushions the knee joint and helps stabilize the knee and leg.  
  • Tendons connect muscle to bone. 
  • Ligaments connect bones to other bones. The knee has four primary ligaments that hold the knee together.
    • (1) Collateral ligaments hold the bones on the side of your knees together and control side-to-side movement.
    • (2) Cruciate ligaments are located on the inside of the knee joint. They cross each other to form an “X” with the anterior cruciate ligament in front and the posterior cruciate ligament in back. The cruciate ligaments control the back-and-forth motion of your knee.

7 Most Common Types of Injuries 

Common knee injuries include sprains, dislocations, fractures and ligament tears. Your age, overall health, and the severity of your injury determine the treatment approach for common knee injuries. Many can be successfully treated with conservative measures such as resting, bracing, biologics, and physical therapy exercises. The seven most common knee injuries are as follows:

  1. Fractures
  2. Dislocations
  3. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  4. Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  5. Collateral Ligament Injuries
  6. Meniscal Tears
  7. Tendon Tears

Knee Injuries Symptoms

When you injure your knee, it’s usually fairly evident. However, over time, common knee injuries can progress, especially if they are not treated initially. Knee injury progression can lead to more severe circumstances as we age, including arthritis and degeneration of the knee joint. Initial symptoms of knee injuries are as follows:

  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Redness and warmth to the touch
  • Weakness or instability
  • Popping or crunching noises
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee

Risk Factors for Knee Injuries 

Although it can happen to anyone, certain people are more susceptible to knee injuries. For instance, if you are overweight, the excess pounds make it difficult for your knees to properly support your body. Additionally, if a person is particularly weak or lacks balance or flexibility, they may encounter injuries due to falling off balance, the inability to support their weight, or from stiff muscles and tendons that tear easily.

Furthermore, sports and physical activity, as we mentioned above, can also play a role in injury. For example, if you are a weekend warrior or someone who enjoys tennis, you may be torquing your knees. Moreover, you may be in poor alignment and posture during certain movements, which will also exacerbate knee conditions.

Common risk factors for knee injuries:

  • Excess weight
  • Lack of muscle flexibility or strength
  • Certain sports or occupations
  • Previous injury

Knee Injuries Diagnosis 

It’s important to seek medical attention if you have pain or swelling in your knee(s). Letting an injury go, will only make it “angrier” and the progression of the injury will eventually lead to a poorer prognosis and recovery than those that get medical treatment at the onset of injury.

Diagnostic Imaging

Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine provides diagnostic imaging through X-rays, CT scans and other innovative digital imaging techniques, which deliver insight into the musculoskeletal and neuroskeletal structures of injured, degenerated, or pre and post-surgical sights. We have a comprehensive advanced in-house diagnostic imaging center. Upon completion of your images, they are scanned directly to your orthopedic surgeon for review.  

Along with lab tests and physical examination, these are the top diagnostic imaging performed to diagnose knee injuries:


Orthopedic X-rays are primarily used to view bones and joints. The X-ray beam passes through the body and provides details of bone, joints, and some soft tissue in black and white images. These are used to detect injury, fractures, degenerative disease, and other conditions.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Patients lie in a machine that rotates around them while taking a series of X-rays. These images are sent to a software program that creates slices of images and cross sections of the body. CT scans provide intricate detail of bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels for diagnostic purposes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRIs use sophisticated magnetic field technology to produce 3D anatomical images. Patients lie comfortably in a machine for the procedure, with open MRIs available for those with special conditions. The magnetic force pairs with protons to create detailed images, and contrast agents are often given intravenously to enhance image definition.


Doctors use high-frequency sound waves to detect and create detailed soft tissue images through advanced software technology. They apply a conducting gel and smoothly scan the area of concern with a small handheld device. Ultrasound imaging also guides PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections.

Knee Injuries Treatments 

Knee treatment depends on the severity of the knee’s injury and degeneration. 

Conservative treatment is always an optimal place to start. Resting the knee (immobilization) is critical to help tamp down inflammation. Immobilization is better controlled with a brace or wrap. Taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is often helpful and prescription pain medications may be necessary in severe cases. 

Physical therapy is highly effective in helping to improve range of motion, strengthening the surrounding muscles, training patients to avoid re-injury and aiding in healing. 

There are also injectables like corticosteroid injections. These are anti-inflammatory injectables that tamp down swelling internally.

Regenerative medicine is a remarkable way to treat damaged tissues directly within the joint. This is a safe and natural alternative to surgery and has helped numerous people find relief and treat the root cause of their condition.

Surgical Treatment

If your knee is severely injured due to a fracture, or to the point where you are in constant pain, can’t move your legs properly, have severe stiffness, or experience disfigurement of your knee or leg, then surgery is often necessary. To fully restore function to your leg, Orthopedic Surgeons can do Arthroscopic (minimally invasive surgery) or open surgery for more in-depth injuries.

Choosing Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine will put you on the path to recovery with optimal results.