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Common Knee & Leg Injuries

Adolescent Anterior Knee Pain | Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL) | Arthritis of the Knee
Calf Strain | Deep Vein Thrombosis | Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
Hamstring Injury | Kneecap (Prepatellar) Bursitis | Meniscal Sprain / Tear
Osgood-Schlatter Disease (Knee Pain) | Osteonecrosis of the Knee | Patellar Tendonitis / Tear
Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Tear | Runner's Knee (Patellofemoral Pain) | Unstable Kneecap

Adolescent Anterior Knee Pain

Adolescent Anterior Knee Pain is characterized by chronic pain in the front and center of the knee and is a common problem in young, healthy athletes. Continued activity with this condition may cause pain, but doesn't necessarily cause damage. Symptoms include a gradual increase of pain during activities requiring bending of the knee and a popping or crackling sound in the knee while climbing stairs, standing or walking after long periods of sitting. There tends to be a higher prevalence in this condition among females. It can be caused by an imbalance of thigh muscles that support the knee joint, poor flexibility, problems with alignment, using improper sports training techniques or equipment, or overdoing sports activities. Treatment includes ice, rest, exercises, and aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL)

The ACL is a ligament found deep in the knee joint. It runs diagonally in the middle of the knee. It prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, as well as provides rotational stability to the knee.

Arthritis of the Knee

There are three basic types of arthritis that may affect the knee joint: osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and post-traumatic arthritis. Arthritis may be caused by worn or damaged joint cartilage. Symptoms of these types of arthritis include stiffness, swelling, increase in pain after activity, weakness, and “buckling” of the knee. Nonsurgical treatment includes lifestyle modifications, drug treatment, acupuncture, magnetic pulse therapy, exercise, supportive devices, heat or ice, liniments or elastic bandages. Surgical treatment may include arthroscopic surgery, osteotomy, total or partial knee arthroplasty or cartilage grafting.

Calf Strain

The calf consists of two muscles: gastrocnemius and soleus. Both muscles assist in pointing/flexing the foot and bending the knee. When strained, or torn, pain in the lower leg may develop and also pain when you contract the muscle against resistance with the knee bent. Treatment options usually include RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), cold therapy, heel pad, anti-inflammatory medication, ultrasound, sports massage, or a full rehabilitation program.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a form of venous thromboembolic disease occurring when a blood clot forms within a deep vein, commonly located in the thigh or calf. If the blood clot continues through the vein to the lungs it then becomes a pulmonary embolism (PE), a potentially fatal condition that can kill within hours. After hip surgery, blood clots often form in the veins of the thigh. These clots are more likely to lead to PE. After knee surgery, most blood clots occur in the calf. Although less likely to lead to PE, these clots are more difficult to detect. Treatment normally includes bed rest, five days of heparin therapy, and three months of warfarin is used to treat a clot located in the femoropoliteal vein of the thigh. Outpatient warfarin treatment for six to 12 weeks is sufficient to treat a clot on the calf vein.

Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee

The pes anserine bursa is a small lubricating sac located between the shinbone (tibia) and three tendons of the hamstring muscle at the inside of the knee. Bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa, usually develops as the result of overuse or constant friction and stress on the bursa. Symptoms usually include slowly developed pain on the inside of the knee and/or in the center of the shinbone, pain increasing with exercise or climbing stairs. Treatment may include a modified workout, rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, or an injection of a solution of anesthetic and steroid into the bursa.

Hamstring Injury

A hamstring injury occurs when you strain or pull one of your hamstring muscles. These are the group of muscles that run along the back of your thigh. With a hamstring injury, you might also experience a partial or complete muscle tear. People involved in sports that involve sprinting with sudden stops and starts such as football, soccer, basketball, etc. are more likely to obtain a hamstring injury. Symptoms include a sudden, sharp pain in the back of your thigh during an activity, a popping or tearing sensation with swelling and tenderness. Treatment can include rest, ice packs, compression wrapping, elevation or over the counter pain medications. More severe cases may require rehabilitation or even surgery.

Kneecap (Prepatellar) Bursitis

Kneecap Bursitis is caused when the small lubricating sac (bursa), located just in front of the kneecap, becomes inflamed and fills with fluid. Symptoms include pain in the knee, rapid swelling on the front of the kneecap, and tenderness and warm to touch. Causes can include a direct blow to the knee, constant kneeling, a motor vehicle accident, or rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Treatment can include ice, rest, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medication. If swelling persists, the doctor may drain the bursa using a needle. If chronic swelling continues, a surgical procedure to remove the bursa may be necessary.

Meniscal Sprain / Tear

The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complex. Meniscal tears or sprains are among the most common knee injuries. When people talk about torn cartilage in the knee, they are usually referring to a torn meniscus. Symptoms may include the feeling of a “pop” in the knee, pain, stiffness and swelling, a catching or locking of the knee, or limited range of motion. Causes of the condition can include squatting or twisting of the knee or forceful direct contact. Athletes or older people are at the highest risk. Treatment can include RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, or knee arthroscopy for severe cases.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease (Knee Pain)

Osgood-Schlatter disease is an overuse injury in adolescents caused by inflammation in the tendon below the kneecap. In most cases symptoms will disappear completely once the adolescent growth spurt is completed, around age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys. Symptoms include knee pain, swelling of the knee, and tenderness below the kneecap. Those participating in sports such as soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and distance running are at an increased risk for developing the condition. Treatment includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, wrapping of the knee, and rest.

Osteonecrosis of the Knee

The literal meaning of osteonecrosis means “bone death”. Osteonecrosis of the knee occurs when a segment of bone loses its blood supply and begins to die, resulting in a relatively common cause of knee pain in older women. Symptoms may include sudden pain on the inside of the knee, increased pain at night and with activity, swelling over the front and inside of the knee, and heightened sensitivity to touch in the area. In the early stages of the disease, treatment is not surgical and may include medications, a brace, a conditioning program, and activity modification. If more than half of the bone surface is affected, surgical treatment may include arthroscopic cleaning (debridement) of the joint, drilling to reduce pressure, procedures to shift weight bearing, and unicompartmental or total knee replacement.

Patellar Tendonitis / Tear

Patellar Tendonitis is an injury that affects the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. The patellar tendon plays a pivotal role in the way one uses his or her legs. It assists your muscles to extend your lower leg so that you can kick, jump, or push pedals. This injury is most common in athletes involved in sports with frequent jumping such as basketball, soccer and volleyball. It is commonly known as “Jumper's Knee.” Symptoms include sharp pain in the section of the patellar tendon between the kneecap and shinbone when running or jumping. After a workout, a persistant dull pain may be present. Causes can include overuse, being overweight, tight leg muscles, and more. If untreated, the injury can result in a tear. Treatment can involve rest, stretching, strengthening exercises, a patellar tendon strap, or corticosteroid injections. Surgery may be indicated if conservative approaches are not helping.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Tear

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located inside the back of the knee joint and serves to keep the tibia from moving too far backwards. When the posterior cruciate ligament tears, the ligament is split into two pieces and the knee joint becomes unstable. Symptoms can include pain that occurs steadily and quickly after the injury, difficulty walking, swelling that stiffens the knee, and instability in the knee. Nonsurgical treatment options may include RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), immobilization or physical therapy. Arthroscopic surgery to rebuild the ligament may be necessary for severe injuries.

Runner's Knee (Patellofemoral Pain)

Runner's knee is a term used to refer to a number of medical conditions that cause pain around the front of the knee. These conditions include anterior knee pain syndrome, patellofemoral malalignment, and chondromalacia patella. Symptoms include a dull, aching pain where the kneecap (patella) connects to the thighbone (femur) and pain while walking up or down stairs, kneeling, squatting, or sitting with a bent knee. Causes may include a malalignment of the kneecap, a complete or partial dislocation, injury, excessive training or overuse, weakness of the thigh muscles or flat feet. Treatment varies upon the particular problem causing the pain, but is usually nonsurgical. It can include RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, reconditioning, taping the kneecap or using a special brace for knee support, or special shoe inserts (orthotics). When needed, surgical treatments include arthroscopy or realignment.

Unstable Kneecap

As long as the kneecap (patella) stays in the groove of the knee, activities such as walking, running, sitting, standing and moving will remain easy. Once the kneecap slips out of its groove, problems and pain will often result. Symptoms include a “buckling” of the knee, the kneecap appearing to be on the side of the knee, pain increase with activity, cracking or creaking sounds during movement, or stiffness and swelling of the knee. If the kneecap is only partially dislocated, a doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatments such as exercise and braces. If the kneecap has been completely dislocated, it must be returned to its proper place using reduction. At times reduction will occur spontaneously, but other times a doctor will apply a gentle force to push the kneecap back into place. Surgery is often recommended for a chronic condition in which the knee continues to remain unstable.