Knee Cartilage & Ligament Injuries

The knee is the largest and arguably most complex joint in the body. So, it comes as no surprise that knee cartilage and ligament injuries are quite common. Let’s take a look at what causes these injuries, what symptoms they may present, and how they are treated.

Knee cartilage injuries

The bones that meet to comprise the knee joint (the femur and tibia) are cushioned by articular cartilage, a type of flexible connective tissue. The knee joint also features menisci, two small pieces of cartilage that serve as shock absorbers. Damage to knee cartilage often results from impact, such as a fall or direct blow to the knee. Sudden twisting motions can also cause a meniscus to tear. For many individuals over 50, arthritis causes the cartilage to gradually wear away.

Symptoms of a knee cartilage injury will vary according to its severity and specific location. In many cases, swelling and pain may develop around the knee, as well as a “locking” sensation in the joint and difficulty standing or walking comfortably.

Treatment for knee cartilage injuries typically begins with non-invasive methods that focus on reducing pain and increasing mobility. Many patients are able to find relief through physical therapy, medication, and self-care measures. In other cases, minimally invasive or traditional surgery may be recommended to smooth down or replace injured cartilage.

Knee ligament injuries

There are four main ligaments in the knee that keep in joint in place – the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The most commonly injured ligament is the ACL, which can be easily strained or sprained  by sudden twisting motions. Sudden impact from accidents or contact sports are often to blame for injuries in other knee ligaments.

A tell-tale symptom of a knee ligament injury is a popping sensation, following by buckling, pain, and swelling. In other cases, pain may be minimal, if at all – the only symptom may be a popping noise and a feeling of instability in the joint.

Treating a knee ligament injury often involves physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the knee, as well as bracing. In more extensive cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a ligament.

Orthopaedic Specialists is proud to provide a full spectrum of care to patients with all types of knee cartilage and ligament injuries. To schedule an appointment with a board-certified orthopedic physician at one of our centers in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, contact our team today.

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