Accessibility Tools
What Are the Most Common Knee Injuries That Athletes Face?
What Are the Most Common Knee Injuries That Athletes Face?

Athletes and sports enthusiasts risk injury when engaging in physical activity. While the risk of certain joints and bones can vary depending on the sport and level, the knees are one of the most vulnerable parts to injuries.

Understanding common knee injuries is crucial for maintaining peak performance and preventing injuries by taking the necessary precautions. Here are some of the most common injuries, how they develop, and what can be done to avoid them.

Most Common Knee Injuries in Athletes

Many sports involve physical contact, quick movement, and other factors that stress the knee. This can lead to injuries to the muscles, joints, and the parts surrounding the area. These are some of the most common:

  1. Patellar Fracture

    The patella, better known as the kneecap, protects the knee joint and supports the muscles around the knee. Athletes are prone to fractures if they trip and fall directly on their knees, are directly hit in the knees, or exert their knees without proper precautions. When there’s too much pressure on the kneecap, it can lead to several kinds of fractures.

    Athletes with patellar fractures experience severe pain and swelling around the knee, especially when they try to bend their knees or walk. There may also be a visible deformity or a change that can be felt through the knee’s skin. Athletes may need knee realignment and rehabilitation and may need to use assistive devices for walking until they recover.

  2. Patellar Dislocation

    The knee joint connects the thigh bone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap, with the kneecap moving on the trochlear groove during movement. When the kneecap is dislocated (common in high-impact sports prone to players colliding or falling), it pushes it out of the groove. This can cause severe pain, audible sounds coming from the knee, and a visible deformity in the knee area.

    As a result of the dislocation, athletes may find it difficult to walk or move their knees. It’s highly recommended that athletes don’t attempt to pop their kneecaps back into place and have a professional healthcare provider treat them. Most patients recover after this. However, the impact that caused the dislocation could have also damaged the surrounding cartilage and tendons, which could require surgery or rehabilitation.

  3. ACL Tear

    The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is the tissue connecting the thigh bone to the shinbone. A tear can occur for reasons such as pressure caused by awkward knee twists, repeated sudden changes in direction, or direct trauma to the knee. This is most common in soccer, basketball, football, and skiing athletes because of their movement.

    Athletes with an ACL tear can experience immediate pain, a popping sound around the knee, and difficulty putting weight on the affected leg. Athletes can often recover through rest, ice, compression, elevation, or the RICE method. However, some athletes may require surgery and rehabilitation before they resume playing sports.

  4. Meniscus Tear

    A common knee injury among athletes who play contact sports, a meniscus tear occurs when one or both menisci (the cartilage pieces between the femur and tibia responsible for shock absorption) are damaged. Although older patients can develop a torn meniscus due to aging, athletes tend to develop tears because of forceful knee twists, pivoting, sudden changes in movement, and putting too much pressure on the knees.

    Athletes with torn meniscus will experience pain when twisting their knees and the sensation of their knees locking into place. Most athletes can recover with the RICE method, though some patients may need physical therapy and surgery to address the pain and build knee strength.

  5. Patellar Tendonitis

    Also known as jumper’s knee, patellar tendonitis is common among athletes playing volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, and track, where jumping is a common practice. Improper form during jumping can put repeated stress on the knees, irritating the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. Irritation can lead to inflammation, leading to pain and stiffness worsening without treatment.

    Patients with patellar tendonitis are advised to rest and take anti-inflammatory medication. Physical therapy may be needed to strengthen the tendon and minimize pain. Surgery is rare, but untreated tendonitis could lead to a tear, which could require surgery to repair the tissue.

How Can Athletes Prevent Knee Injuries?

In some sports involving physical contact or intense activity, knee injuries are always risky despite precautions. However, you can take some proactive steps to minimize the risk of injury caused by a lack of precaution. Some measures include:

  • Proper Warm-Up: A good warm-up routine prepares your body for the intense physical activity before a game. It can increase blood flow, improve flexibility, and prepare the muscles and joints for exercise demands, reducing the risk of strain and injury.
  • Strength Exercises: Exercises that strengthen your knee muscles, quads, hamstrings, and calves can improve your stability, which can support your knee joint. This can reduce the risk of injuries to your tendons and ligaments. Add squats, lunges, calf raises, and other knee and leg exercises to your routine.
  • Adequate Rest and Recovery: After every game or workout, it’s crucial to let your body recover. Incorporating rest days allows your body to adapt and recover and prevents exerting your leg muscles and knee joints.
  • Proper Footwear: Invest in quality footwear that can support your feet and knees, softening the stress that wears out your knee joints. Wear the correct size and replace worn-out shoes.
  • Practice with Professionals: Coaches and trainers understand the risk of knee injuries your sport can have. Training with them allows them to spot incorrect forms or techniques that put unnecessary stress on your knees. From there, you can correct your techniques and reduce the risk of injury.

Recover From Sports-Related Injuries Through Treatment From a Nationally Recognized Orthopedic Surgeon

Athletes from various sports commonly face knee injuries that can significantly impact their performance and overall career. Prevention and early intervention are crucial in minimizing the risk of these injuries, and understanding the nature of these injuries can aid in a successful recovery.

Dr. Benjamin Domb specializes in sports medicine and has helped many athletes recover from sports-related injuries. With innovative treatment plans, you can manage knee injuries' short- and long-term effects and improve your quality of life. Call us today at (833) 872-4477 or request an appointment online.

Contact us to schedule an appointment
with our specialists today.

Request an Appointment

You may also like...