The knee is one of the largest joints in the body and also more prone to injuries because of its superficial location and due to the immense forces that course through it at times of walking, running, playing or during a fall/accident. It consists of three bones- thigh bone, kneecap and leg bone lined by cartilage at their ends. The meniscus is soft structures inside the knee joint which help in increasing the conformity of the joint among other functions. The ligaments hold the bones together so that the joint is stable. The tendons connect the muscle to the bone helping the joint move.
Most of the knee injuries are simple and can be treated by home remedies such as ice / hot packs, local anti-inflammatory ointments and over the counter pain killers. However, some of the more severe injuries may need medical attention. Listed below are some common knee injuries and their management:
Sprain and ligament tears
A sprain indicates stretching of soft tissues. It happens due to a fall which can lead to a twisting injury in the knee. This can happen due to playing sports, falling off the stairs, falling from a two-wheeler etc. Simple sprains can be treated through the application of icepacks, painkillers, compression bandage and rest. When the pain is more severe as a result of a ligament, muscle or tendon tear, an X-Ray or MRI of the joint and knee may be required to decide the course of treatment. For example, in case of a ligament tear, a key-hole surgery may be recommended to prevent instability in the knee joint that can hinder daily activities. A key-hole surgery can also help manage the damages caused in the cartilage of the knee joint and the meniscus that may cause pain and swelling.
Watch: Exercises For Knee Pain
Fracture around the knee can occur in case of a severe injury in the kneecap, thigh bone or leg bone. It is generally a severe fracture that demands surgery to continue daily activities. The fractured bone needs to be held together in its correct place utilizing plaster cast, wires, screws and plates so that it heals properly and leads to better functioning joint. Early surgery is recommended so that the early movement of the joint can be started to ensure better functional results. However, all fractures may not require surgery such as those which have not got displaced from their position. Such fractures can be treated through home remedies, a cast or wire.
Knee dislocation is the most severe injury of the knee. It occurs when the thigh bone and shin bone lose contact with each other. Knee dislocation can lead to further complications in the knee, including damage to the blood supply and nerves. It can occur due to a high-impact injury such as an automobile crash, severe fall, and sports injuries. The first step in the treatment process post undergoing an X-ray or MRI involves the repositioning of the joint after which an evaluation of the adjoining areas is done. Knee dislocations are treated either through open surgery (through a large incision) or arthroscopically (key-hole surgery).
Therefore, while knee injuries are common, they should not be ignored as when left untreated, they can lead to graver problems. Knee injuries and knee pain can be prevented by maintaining good body weight, wearing shoes with a good fit, swimming, walking, engaging in low-impact exercises, avoiding a sudden change in the intensity of physical activities and weight training. It is essential to be active to keep the knee strong and healthy.
With inputs from Dr Ashok Rajgopal, Group Chairman Institute Of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopaedics, Medanta
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