What Are Common Knee Injuries?

Our experienced New York knee injury surgeons explain what you need to know

Knee injuries can cover a wide range – from minor aches and pains to torn knee ligaments and over severe knee injuries. Knowing what to do if you have a serious knee injury can be overwhelming. Even knowing where to look to find accurate information about your knee injury might not be clear. That’s why we want to help you at Island Musculoskeletal Care (IMC Bone Doc). We often have immediate appointments available. Best of all, you can often receive all your medical care at one, convenient location.

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained New York knee surgeons have more than 100 years of combined medical experience. All that experience has taught our doctors how to properly diagnose what’s wrong and how to provide effective medical treatment for a wide range of knee injuries.

What type of knee injury do you have?

Want to learn more about some of the most common – and most serious – knee injuries? You can learn more by reading about specific kinds of knee injuries below:

Don’t see your specific knee injury? Don’t worry. We have extensive experience diagnosing some of the most complex and serious knee injuries. We know what to look for and what to do, regardless of what kind of knee injury you have. That’s why we have an MRI machine in each one of our seven office locations – to diagnose what’s wrong as soon as possible.

Our NYC knee injury surgeons can help. Schedule an appointment today.

Learn more about how your New York orthopedic knee surgeons can help you. Contact us and make an appointment at one of our seven offices in greater New York City and Long Island. One of our experienced doctors can examine you and determine what’s wrong with your knee. Contact us online or call 1-888-BONE-DOC (266-3362).

Our medical practice is in network and accepts coverage by most insurance providers. If you hurt your knee at work – whether it was in an accident or due to long-term wear and tear – your company’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover all your medical bills related to your knee injury.

Count on the New York orthopedic knee surgeons at IMC Bone Doc when it matters most. Schedule an appointment today. Many of our doctors have immediate appointments available the same day. Call now or make an appointment online.

Knee Pain

Common causes – Knee pain can be caused by a wide range of knee injuries, including ones caused by a single accident or due to long-term wear and tear. The physical structure of a person’s knee, inflammation or swelling can also be common causes of knee pain.

Symptoms – You know your body best. If your knee hurts or you have trouble walking due to severe knee, make an appointment with one of our experienced, New York knee surgeons. We can diagnose what’s wrong and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Treatments – There is a wide range of surgical knee injury treatments and non-surgical knee injury treatments. Our doctors can explain which ones make the most sense for your specific knee injury or knee illness.

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What is anterior knee pain?

Definition – Knee pain located in the center and front (anterior) part of the knee joint. Anterior knee pain often occurs in athletes (particularly runners), active children or overweight individuals. This knee pain is often chronic as well.

Common causes – Anterior knee pain often occurs because the kneecap is rubbing up against the thighbone (femur). These knee problems may be due to improper alignment of the knee, arthritis, knee fracture or a cartilage injury.

Symptoms – Knee pain focused on the front of the knee is the most obvious sign of an injury. A dull aching pain near the kneecap is common. A cracking or popping sound in the knee, especially after climbing stairs or walking after sitting for a period of time, is another common symptom.

Treatments – Applying ice to the knee and rest often help relieve anterior knee pain. Physical therapy and exercise can also help in many cases. Your doctor might even prescribe pain medications in cases of serious anterior knee pain. Surgery is often not necessary in these cases.

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What is runner’s knee?

Definition – Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, runner’s knee mainly affects the kneecap area of the leg. Runners with this medical condition often experience knee pain near their kneecap. Other athletes who sometimes experience similar pain include cyclists, soccer players and skiers.

Common causes – Runner’s knee often occurs because of a wear and tear, strain on the tendons or poor knee alignment. Medical conditions like patellofemoral malalignment (misalignment of the knee) and chondromalacia patella (damage to the cartilage under the kneecap) are also common causes of runner’s knee.

Symptoms – A dull, constant pain in the knee is the most common symptom of runner’s knee. This pain often occurs while running or walking up and down stairs.

Treatments – Resting the knee and avoid activities which cause pain, such as running, is the first step towards treating runner’s knee. In particular, your doctor may advise RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation of your knee. Surgical treatments for runner’s knee often include arthroscopic knee surgery to correct the alignment of the knee.

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What is Osgood-Schlatter disease?

Definition – Named after the surgeons who first diagnosed this disease, Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common medical condition in which patients often experience knee pain due to overuse. Osgood-Schlatter disease normally affects the kneecap (patellar tendon). Pain in the knee is often due to inflammation of the tendon located underneath the kneecap.

Common causes – Excessive athletic activity can often be a contributing factor in Osgood-Schlatter disease. Activities that require a lot of bending and jumping – including basketball, soccer, ice skating and ballet – can put additional strain on thigh muscles and quadricep muscles. Constant, repeated pressure on the tendon can also cause the tendon to pull away from the shinbone (tibia), resulting in knee pain and additional strain on the tendon.

Symptoms – Some of the most common symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include knee pain, tenderness in the knee and swelling. An X-ray or MRI will likely be necessary to properly diagnose Osgood-Schlatter disease.

Treatments – Non-surgical treatments often help relieve the knee pain and swelling frequently associated with Osgood-Schlatter disease. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory pain medications can also be effective treatments for this medical condition.

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What is chondromalacia patella?

Definition – Chondromalacia patella is a medical term used to describe the deterioration of cartilage in the knee joint.

Common causes – Overuse is a common cause of chondromalacia patella cartilage damage in the knee. Misalignment of the kneecap is another common cause. Other causes may include arthritis in order adults and excessive athletic activity in younger adults.

Symptoms – Knee pain is one of the most common symptoms of chondromalacia patella cartilage damage in the knee. A cracking sensation in the knee is another common symptom.

Treatments – Non-surgical treatments for chondromalacia patella often include simply resting and avoiding activity that aggravates your knee. Surgical treatments may include knee realignment surgery or knee arthroscopy surgery.

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What is jumper’s knee?

Definition – Officially known as patellar tendinitis, jumper’s knee refers to knee pain caused by inflammation of the tendon in the knee, which is connected to the shinbone (tibia).

Common causes – Jumper’s knee is often due to repetitive overuse. Certain sports and athletic activities are often associated with jumper’s knee, including basketball, ballet and other high-impact sports.

Symptoms – Recurring, constant pain in the knees, especially after athletic activity or kneeling. Swelling around the knee may occur but it often does not in cases involving jumper’s knee.

Treatments – Rest and avoiding activities which aggravate the knee are often the best cure for jumper’s knee. Corticosteroid injections in the knee can also sometimes be beneficial. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. In these cases, removing or repairing the damaged tendon may be necessary.

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What is bursitis?

Definition – Small, fluid-filled sacs exist between bones and soft tissues. These sacs are called bursas. Sometimes, these small sacs can become inflamed, causing them to be bigger and creating discomfort. When a bursa becomes inflamed in the knee, that is known as kneecap bursitis.

Common causes – Bursitis often occurs as a result of constant pressure applied to the knee. This can be due to kneeling, arthritis or sometimes a direct blow to the knee.

Symptoms – Common symptoms of bursitis include knee pain, knee swelling and tenderness on the front of the knee.

Treatments – One of our doctors can provide a specific diagnosis and treatment options for your bursitis. Often, resting your knee and avoiding activities that can aggravate your knee can reduce the inflammation in your knee often associated with bursitis. In certain cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed bursa in your knee.

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What is a baker’s cyst?

Definition – Also known as a popliteal cyst, a baker’s cyst is a lump that develops near the back of the knee when a person’s body produces too much synovial fluid, a naturally-occurring liquid which helps reduce friction between the knee joint and bones in the knee.

Common causes – Arthritis is a common cause of baker’s cysts. Gout and knee injuries can also be common causes of baker’s cysts.

Symptoms – Baker’s cysts can sometimes be hard to diagnose. Sometimes, these cysts do not cause any pain or excessive swelling. Instead, you might not notice anything’s wrong until you flex your knee or your baker’s cyst eventually breaks open, causing swelling in your knee and lower leg.

Treatments – Most baker’s cysts disappear on their own, but if the cyst becomes too large, a doctor may need to drain the fluid from your knee with a needle. Surgery may also be necessary if your knee is producing additional synovial fluid due cartilage damage in your knee.

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What is iliotibial band syndrome?

Definition – The iliotibial band are long fibers in a person’s thigh which connect the shin bone to the hip. When this part of the body becomes inflamed and enlarged, that’s known as iliotibial band syndrome.

Common causes – Iliotibial band syndrome often occurs due to overuse. One of the most common reasons why the iliotibial band can become irritated is due to excessive exercise, particularly due to excessive running or cycling. This is especially true when cyclists or runners dramatically increase how many miles they run or bike. Improperly fitting shoes or improper knee alignment can also result in iliotibial band syndrome.

Symptoms – Common symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome include pain and swelling in the knee. People with this medical condition might also notice a popping sensation when they straighten or bend the affected knee.

Treatments – Rest, physical therapy and pain medications are often the most effective treatment for iliotibial band syndrome. Your doctor might also recommend custom-fit shoes to prevent additional knee damage in the future.

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What is lateral patellar compression syndrome?

Definition – If you are experiencing pain in or around your kneecap, it may be due to lateral patellar compression syndrome. This medical condition is common among athletes, including people who ski, cycle or play sports which require a lot of running, including basketball and soccer.

Common causes – Some of the most common causes of lateral patellar compression syndrome including overuse, poor knee alignment and dislocation of your knee.

Symptoms – Constant knee pain is good indication that you may have lateral patellar compression syndrome. You might notice this pain more acutely when walking up stairs or after walking for a long period of time.

Treatments – Avoiding activities which aggravate the knee and cause knee pain is the first step towards addressing lateral patellar compression syndrome. One of our doctors might also recommend physical therapy or a knee brace to hold your knee in place. In certain extreme cases, a surgical procedure known as a lateral retinacular release may be an effective way to tighten loose tendons or realign the quadricep.

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What is osteochondritis dissecans?

Definition – A medical term used to describe a knee injury in which cartilage from the knee or another joint and a thin layer of bone separate from larger bones in the body. These loose bone and cartilage fragments are known as “joint mice.” Osteochondritis dissecans can be very painful and make it difficult to walk.

Common causes – Osteochondritis dissecans in the knee often occur due to vigorous athletic activity, including sports like baseball and gymnastics. Other people also develop osteochondritis dissecans due to a variety of factors, including knee injuries, knee fractures and other knee trauma.

Symptoms – One of the first signs that someone has osteochondritis dissecans is knee pain. Swelling in the knee, stiffness and a reduced range of motion could also be warning signs of osteochondritis dissecans. Often, the only way to know for sure is to X-ray the patient or perform an MRI scan.

Treatments – Sometimes, rest and pain medications are all that’s needed to treat this medical condition, especially in the early stages. In cases of advanced osteochondritis dissecans, surgery may be necessary. Bone grafting, osteochondral grafting, open reduction internal fixation and drilling are among the more common surgical procedures for this knee condition. Your doctor can advise you on the best strategy for your particular situation.

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What are shin splints?

Definition – Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints refer to inflammation of the bone tissue, muscles and tendons near the tibia or shinbone.

Common causes – Overuse and repetitive physical activities are common causes of shin splints. Runners and people who engage in vigorous physical exercise are also sometimes prone to developing shin splints.

Symptoms – Pain on the shin and the front of the leg are the most common warning signs that someone has shin splints. Swelling and numbness in the lower leg may also be symptoms of shin splints.

Treatments – Rest and refraining from running for several weeks is the most common treatment for shin splints. During that time, doctors often advise people with shin splits to ice the affected area and perform gentle, stretching exercises.  Surgery is rarely used to treat shin splints unless there are other, underlying medical issues.

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What is an unstable knee?

Definition – This broad term refers to any medical condition in which your knee becomes unstable, making it difficult for you to walk or perform other tasks since your knee cannot support your weight or stabilize your leg.

Common causes – Common reasons why your knee can become unstable or “give way” include ligament tears, cartilage damage and meniscus tears. Arthritis and osteoarthritis can make your knee unstable. Knee alignment issues may also be a cause of your knee instability.

Symptoms – Difficulty walking, knee pain or poor balance are often the most common warning signs of an unstable knee. You won’t know for sure what’s wrong until you have a doctor examine you and diagnose what’s wrong.

Treatments – Treatments for knee instability issues can cover a wide range – from simply resting your injured knee and icing it to undergoing knee surgery. Again, the key to understanding how to best treat your medical issue starts with meeting with an experienced orthopedic knee surgeon. Contact us. We can help.

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What is goosefoot bursitis of the knee?

Definition – A type of knee injury in which the bursa (small, fluid-filled sac) swells and becomes larger, putting pressure on the tibia (shinbone) and hamstring tendons in front of the tibia. As a result, the three hamstring tendons on the tibia are spread out like the foot of a goose, which is where the name of this medical conditions comes from.

Common causes – Overuse of the knee, repetitive movements and other wear and tear are some of the most common causes of goosefoot bursitis of the knee. This condition often affects athletes. Arthritis, obesity and medial meniscus tears can also be a cause.

Symptoms – If you feel pain on the inside of your knee or on your shin, that may be an indication that you have goosefoot bursitis of the knee. A physical examination at our clinic and perhaps X-ray images are often the best way to confirm if you have this medical condition.

Treatments – Rest and avoiding activities which aggravate your knee are often be the best ways to relieve the knee pain and inflammation often associated with goosefoot bursitis. Steroid injections may also help. Knee surgery is only rarely used in most cases. The most common surgical procedure involves removing the severely inflamed bursa in your knee.

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What is a knee sprain?

Definition – One of the most common knee injuries, knee sprains often involve partial tears to the ligaments supporting the knee.

Common causes – Knee sprains often occur due to sudden, forceful injuries to the knee. These can include twisting your knee, a direct blow to your knee, falling on your knee or stopping suddenly while running.

Symptoms – Some of the most common warning signs of a knee sprain include knee pain and swelling. You knee might also feel especially sensitive when moving your knee or bending your leg. You know your body best. If something feels wrong with your knee, schedule an appointment with a doctor and have them examine your knee.

Treatments – Resting your leg and icing your knee are often the best way to treat a sprained knee. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications may also help reduce swelling and pain in your knee. Surgery is often not necessary, unless you have other medical issues, including a torn knee ligament or torn meniscus.

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What is an ACL tear?

Definition – The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thigh bone (femur). The ACL prevents the shinbone from sliding in front of the thigh bone. As a result, if the ACL is torn, both leg bones and the knee itself can become unstable and very painful.

Common causes – ACL tears often occur because of a single, severe knee injury. Changing direction quickly to stopping suddenly are common causes of ACL tears. That’s why they’re one of the most common sports injuries, especially for people playing basketball, soccer, football or skiing.

Symptoms – A popping sensation in the knee, rapid swelling and severe knee pain are some of the most common symptoms of a torn ACL. You’ll also likely have a reduced range of motion in your knee and difficulty walking or putting any weight on your knee.

Treatments – An MRI or X-ray may be necessary to confirm whether you have torn your ACL. Reconstruction surgery will then likely be necessary to repair or replace your torn ligament. You will then likely need several weeks of physical therapy to rehabilitate and strengthen your leg muscles.

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What is an MCL tear?

Definition – The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects inner part of the tibia (shinbone) with the femur (thigh bone). If the MCL is stretched too far, it can tear, resulting in a painful knee injury which often requires surgery.

Common causes – Like a torn ACL, a torn MCL often occurs as a result of a single, serious knee injury. Athletic activities are often a common cause of MCL tears, including skiing, soccer, football and basketball. Torn MCLs can happen to anyone who changes direction quickly or stops suddenly, however.

Symptoms – Knee pain, swelling in the knee and a popping sound or popping sensation in the knee are all warning signs of a torn MCL. An MRI or X-ray may be necessary to confirm whether someone has a torn MCL.

Treatments – Resting your leg and icing your knee may be enough to heal your torn MCL. Wearing a knee brace may also help. In certain circumstances, arthroscopic knee surgery may be necessary to repair your torn MCL.

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What is an MCL sprain?

Definition – Spraining your medial collateral ligament (MCL) often involves painfully stretching this ligament located on the inside of your knee. Your MCL connects your shinbone to your thighbone. MCL sprains can range from mild, first-degree MCL sprains (no significant MCL tear) to second-degree MCL sprains (partial tear of MCL) to a severe, third-degree MCL sprain (complete rupture of ligament).

Common causes – Like MCL tears, MCL sprains often occur due to sudden, single accident rather than due to long-term wear and tear. In particular, many MCL sprains occur due to a sudden sharp blow to the knee.

Symptoms – Difficulty walking, knee pain, knee swelling and tenderness in the knee are all common warning signs of a sprained MCL. One of our doctors can examine your knee and diagnose exactly what’s wrong. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to properly diagnose a sprained MCL.

Treatments – Rest and reduced physical activity to avoid aggravating the injured knee are the most common treatments for sprained MCLs. Surgery is rarely performed for sprained MCLs unless it’s a third-degree MCL sprain. In these cases, arthroscopic knee surgery may be advised.

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What are meniscal injuries?

Definition – The meniscus is a small but important piece of cartilage in the knee which acts as a barrier between the tibia (shinbone) and femur (thigh bone). Injuries to this piece of cartilage (known as the menisci) can be very painful and make it difficult to walk or perform other routine activities.

Common causes – Meniscus injuries are among the most common knee injuries. Sports-related injuries are often a common cause of meniscal injuries, which can include meniscal tears due to twisting or flexing the knee too far.

Symptoms – Some of the most common symptoms of a meniscal injury include knee pain, swelling in the knee, reduced range of motion and a popping sound or feeling in the knee. X-rays and MRIs are often the best way to confirm whether someone has a meniscal injury.

Treatments – Resting the injured knee and icing it are often the best way to treat meniscal injuries. Physical therapy can also often be beneficial. In some cases, arthroscopic knee surgery may be the best way to treat certain severe meniscal injuries.

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What is a meniscal tear?

Definition – One of the most common knee injuries, meniscal tears involve the cartilage in the knee which connects the thigh bone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia) being torn apart. These traumatic injuries can be very painful and often require arthroscopic knee surgery to repair meniscal tears.

Common causes – Meniscal tears often occur as a result of sports-related activities, particularly sports that involve a lot of twisting of the knee and stopping suddenly. These sports include basketball, skiing and tennis. Older adults who don’t participate in sports can also tear their meniscus, sometimes simply due to wear and tear with age.

Symptoms – Knee pain, trouble walking, knee swelling, and reduced range of motion are all common warning signs and symptoms of a meniscal tear. An orthopedic knee surgeon will need to examine the knee in order to accurately diagnose the knee injury.

Treatments – Arthroscopic knee surgery is often advised to repair a meniscal tear. In particular, doctors either often remove the meniscus (meniscectomy), replace the meniscus or repair it. All of these procedures require a highly trained, experienced arthroscopic knee surgeon.

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What are ligament injuries?

Definition – Thick, flexible fibers called ligaments connect many of the tendons, bone and cartilage found inside the knee. Ligaments can be easily injured or torn, resulting in often painful and serious knee injuries. Two of the most common knee ligament injuries are ACL tears and MCL tears.

Common causes – Knee ligament injuries often occur due to a single, sudden injury, such as a sports injury or a workplace accident. In an instant, the ligaments in the knee can be torn or strained due to twisting the knee or suddenly changing direction. Knee ligament injuries also sometimes occur due to overuse or long-term wear and tear.

Symptoms – Stiffness in the knee, swelling and knee pain are some of the most common warning signs of a knee ligament injury. If you experience any of these symptoms or suspect something’s wrong, seek immediate medical attention. One of our doctors can examine you.

Treatments – There are wide range of medical treatments for knee ligament injuries. Depending on the severity of your ligament injury, your treatment plan could range from simply resting and icing your knee to undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.

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What is multiligament instability?

Definition – There are four major ligaments (thick, flexible fibers) located in the knee. These four ligaments are the lateral collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament. If two or more of these ligaments are injured, the knee can become unstable and make it difficult to walk or remain properly balanced.

Common causes – Multiligament instability injuries – particularly ligament tears – often occur because of a direct blow to the knee, sudden twisting movements or landing hard on the ground. As a result, multiple instability knee injuries are common among athletes (including people who play basketball, soccer and football), as well as people involved in car accidents.

Symptoms – Involuntary knee movements and knee pain are common symptoms of knee instability. Knee swelling and a reduced range of motion are also common symptoms. You won’t know for sure until you’ve been examined by an orthopedic knee surgeon who can diagnose exactly what’s wrong.

Treatments – Surgical reconstruction is often recommended for multiligament instability. This arthroscopic knee surgery often involves rebuilding the injured or torn ligaments using tissue taken from another part of the patient’s body or from a tissue donor. The recovery time for this surgical procedure is often 6 to 8 weeks. Most patients can resume normal physical activity after that time.

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What is knee arthritis?

Definition – Arthritis is a medical term used to describe a condition in which the cartilage or joint surface are worn out, often due to long-term wear and tear. As a result of this deterioration in the cartilage and joint surface, the two parts do not comfortably rub together. Instead, there is resistance and friction, which often results in chronic pain. This chronic arthritis is also sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis.

Common causes – Aging and normal wear and tear are the most common causes of arthritis, particularly in the knee. Other causes of arthritis may include a bone infection, a bone fracture, increase stress on the knee due to increased weight gain, as well as connective tissue disorders.

Symptoms – Chronic knee pain, difficulty walking, and decreased mobility are common symptoms of arthritis. An X-ray can be used to confirm whether someone has arthritis due to decreased space in the joint between the cartilage and joint surface.

Treatments – There are many treatments available for arthritis in the knee. These include physical therapy, pain medications and surgical procedures. Surgical procedures to treat arthritis include arthroscopic surgery, partial knee replacement surgery and total knee replacement surgery. One of our orthopedic knee surgeons can discuss all the available treatment options for arthritis with you during your examination.

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What is patellar dislocation/patellofemoral dislocation?

Definition – Patellar dislocation (which is also sometimes called patellofemoral dislocation) refers to knee injuries in which the kneecap (patella) moves out of its normal position. If the kneecap is partially dislocated, that’s called a subluxation. If the kneecap is completely dislocated, that’s a luxation or simply a dislocation.

Common causes – A direct blow to the knee, rapidly changing direction, twisting the knee and birth defects are all common causes of patellar dislocation injuries. A torn medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) can also sometimes be associated with a patellar dislocation injury.

Symptoms – Knee pain, swelling of the knee and numbness below the knee are common symptoms of a patellar dislocation injury. Discoloration around the knee is also a common warning sign that something’s wrong. In general, having an MRI, X-ray or CT scan is the best way to diagnose if someone has a patellar dislocation injury.

Treatments – Simply resting the injured knee, icing it and putting on a knee brace to immobilize the knee are some of the most common, non-surgical treatments for patellar dislocation injuries. Surgical treatments include medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction, lateral release procedure and tibia tubercle realignment or transfer.

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What are PCL injuries?

Definition – The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is one of the four major ligaments in the knee. The PCL is located near the back of the knee and connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thighbone (femur). PCL injuries are rare but often involve injuries to cartilage in the knee. Mild PCL injuries are classified as Grade I ligament injuries, followed by Grade II ligament injuries and Grade III ligament injuries.

Common causes – PCL injuries often occur due to a direct blow to the knee, overextending the knee or twisting the knee. As a result, car accidents and sports injuries are common causes of PCL injuries.

Symptoms – Knee pain and swelling shortly after sustaining a PCL injury are common warning signs that something’s wrong. Instability in the knee and difficulty walking are other symptoms of a PCL injury.

Treatments – Surgery is often necessary for people with PCL injuries. Common surgical procedures often involve reconstructing torn knee ligaments using tissue grafts. Arthroscopic knee surgery is also often a common way to repair torn PCLs and other PCL injuries. Recovery time can vary from a few weeks to sometimes as long as 12 months.

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What is chondral (articular cartilage defects)?

Definition – Articular cartilage is a protective layer that covers the ends of bones inside the knee. When this cartilage becomes damaged, the barrier between the two main bones that meet in the knee (the femur and the tibia) can become rough, resulting in pain and discomfort in the knee.

Common causes – Common causes of chondral injuries and articular cartilage defects include wear and tear over time. Degenerative diseases like arthritis are another common cause. A single, traumatic event (like a car accident, blow to the knee or workplace injury) can also result in these knee injuries.

Symptoms – Joint pain, swelling, stiffness in the knee and decreased range of motion are also warning signs of articular cartilage damage.

Treatments – Cartilage replacement surgical procedures are often the most common – and most effective – methods for addressing articular cartilage defects and articular cartilage damage. These procedures include drilling into the bone, osteochondral autograft transplantation, abrasion arthroplasty and autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI).

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What is patellar instability?

Definition – The kneecap (patella) can become unstable for many different reasons. Often, patellar instability occurs because the patella slips out of place and the bones and joints in the knee are misaligned. Partial knee dislocation is known as subluxation. Due to these misalignments, the knee can become unstable and cause additional damage to the knee.

Common causes – The kneecap can become unstable for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes of patellar instability include an injury to the knee, anatomical defects, arthritis and normal wear and tear.

Symptoms – Knee pain, especially when standing up, is a common symptom of patellar instability. The knee slipping out of place or out of the joint is also another common symptom of patellar instability, along with feeling unsteady when walking and knee swelling.

Treatments – Depending on the severity and cause of the patellar instability, different surgical procedures may be recommended to correct this medical condition. Common surgical procedures for patellar instability include lateral retinacular release, realignment of the quadriceps or a tibial tubercle transfer (TTT) if the misalignment is severe.

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What is patellofemoral instability?

Definition – The main, front part of the knee is called the patellofemoral compartment. Located between the thigh bone (femur) and kneecap (patella), patellofemoral instability involves the kneecap being misaligned, resulting in instability in the leg and difficulty walking or performing other ordinary activities.

Common causes – Anatomical defects (fallen arches, flat feet, etc.) are a common cause of patellofemoral instability. Arthritis in the knee, weak thigh muscles and an injury to the knee (particularly a blow to the knee) are other common causes of patellofemoral instability.

Symptoms – Difficulty standing up, the knee giving way or buckling when walking are common symptoms of patellofemoral instability. The kneecap slipping out of place and severe knee pain are other common symptoms that something could be wrong.

Treatments – Resting and icing the injured knee may be enough to resolve the injury, especially if the patellofemoral instability involves partial subluxation. Often, surgery may be necessary. Common surgical procedures for patellofemoral instability often involve realigning the knee. These procedures include proximal realignment knee surgery and distal realignment knee surgery.

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What is a patella fracture?

Definition – Broken bones can be especially painful, especially if you break a bone located in your kneecap, which is also called the patella. Patella fractures are rare. Instead, many fractures near the kneecap involve broken thigh bones (femur) and broken shin bones (tibia).

Common causes – A direct blow to the knee is often the most common cause of patella fracture. Car accidents are a common cause. So are workplace injuries where someone falls and fractures their kneecap.

Symptoms – Swelling in the knee, knee pain and difficulty straightening the knee are common symptoms of a fractured patella. The best way to determine if this is what happened is to take an X-ray of the knee.

Treatments – Sometimes, rest and immobilizing the knee (often with a knee brace) are the best ways to treat a hairline patella fracture or other minor fractures. Other times, orthopedic knee surgery may be necessary in cases of serious or severe patella fractures, particularly if the break in the bone is too large to heal on its own.

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What is recurrent patella dislocation?

Definition – The kneecap (patella) can sometimes slide out of place due to a knee injury or illness. When this happens more than once, the medical term used to describe this condition is recurrent patella dislocation. The more often it happens, the more severe the damage to the knee can become.

Common causes – Recurrent patella dislocation often occurs due to anatomical deformities in the knee, including misalignment of the patella, tighter than normal lateral ligaments in the knee and a shallow trochlear groove, the term used to describe the groove on top of the thigh bone (femur). A direct blow to the knee and bending or twisting the knee too fast can also be a common cause of recurrent patella dislocation.

Symptoms – Common symptoms of recurrent patella dislocation include pain and swelling around the knee, instability in the leg and the kneecap coming out of place. An X-ray, MRI or CT scan may be necessary to confirm this medical condition.

Treatments – Sometimes, icing the injured knee, resting it and immobilizing the knee can resolve recurrent patella dislocation. Other times, surgery may be necessary. Common surgical procedures for recurrent patella dislocation include realigning the kneecap or arthroscopic knee surgery to address what’s causing the dislocation in the knee. These surgical procedures may involve reconstructing a torn ligament, repairing the patella or lengthening tight ligaments.

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What is a quadricep tendon rupture?

Definition – Tendons are thick cord-like fibers that connect muscles to bones. Quadriceps tendons connect the quadriceps tendons to the patella (kneecap). When this tendon ruptures or tears, walking or performing other routine tasks can become difficult and painful.

Common causes – Athletic activities like running or jumping are often common causes of quadricep tendon ruptures. These injuries often happen to middle-aged adults, but they can also happen to anyone, especially if someone sustains a direct blow to the knee, lands awkwardly on one leg or has rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms – Not being able to straighten the leg or knee is a common warning sign of a quadricep tendon rupture. Severe knee pain and swelling are also common symptoms. Imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI, are often used to confirm quadricep tendon ruptures.

Treatments – Wearing a knee brace and immobilizing the knee is often one of the best non-surgical treatments for a mild quadricep tendon rupture. If the quadricep tendon rupture is more serious, the torn tendon may need to be sutured and tied to the bottom of the kneecap.

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What is a patella tendon rupture?

Definition – The thick tendon connecting the kneecap (patella) with the tibia (shinbone) works in tandem quadricep tendon in helping to stabilize the knee. That’s why a patella tendon tear or rupture can be so painful and make walking or performing other physical activities so difficult.

Common causes – Patella tendon ruptures or tears often occur during athletic activities that involve running or jumping. These injuries are especially common among middle-aged adults. Adults of any age can tear their patella tendon. Rheumatoid arthritis, renal failure, infections and use of medications, like steroids, are common causes of patella tendon ruptures.

Symptoms – Not being able to straighten the leg or injured knee is a common warning sign that someone has a patella tendon rupture. Knee pain, swelling, tenderness and a popping sensation in the knee are also common symptoms that complete tear or partial tear of the patella tendon has occurred.

Treatments – Non-surgical treatments for patella tendon ruptures include immobilizing the knee with a brace, particularly if it’s only a partial tendon tear. If it’s a complete tendon tear, arthroscopic knee surgery may be necessary. These procedures often involve reattaching the tendon to the patella and the tibia using strong sutures.

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What is lateral meniscus syndrome?

Definition – Cartilage in the knee located in between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) is called the meniscus. There are two menisci located inside the knee – the medial and lateral menisci. The lateral meniscus serves a cushion between the femur and the tibia. When this meniscus becomes torn or damaged, that’s known as lateral meniscus syndrome.

Common causes – Lateral meniscus syndrome injuries occur for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of these injuries include excessive twisting of the knee and weight bearing movements or exercises. As a result, sports like football, skiing and basketball are often associated with these knee injuries. Aging, normal wear and tear and congenital abnormalities in the knee can also result in lateral meniscus syndrome injuries.

Symptoms – Symptoms that something could be wrong with your knee include knee swelling and knee pain, especially when climbing stairs, kneeling or twisting your knees. Tenderness in the knees and not being able to straighten your knee is another warning sign that something’s wrong. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to confirm your injury.

Treatments – Non-surgical treatments for lateral meniscus syndrome injuries include physiotherapy, which involves resting injured cartilage and soft tissue, icing it, using crutches and hydrotherapy. Surgical treatments may be necessary for more severe injuries. Arthroscopic knee surgery is a common treatment for lateral meniscus syndrome injuries.

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What is medial meniscus syndrome?

Definition – Medial meniscus knee injuries are more common than lateral meniscus injuries. That’s because the medial meniscus – knee cartilage that acts as a cushion for the tibia (shin bone) and femur (thigh bone) – can easily be torn or damaged due to its location in the knee.

Common causes – Medial meniscus knee injuries – also known as medial meniscus syndrome – often occur either due to a traumatic injury or a degenerative disease.  As a result, these injuries may occur due to a blow to the knee, landing wrong on the knee or due to normal wear and tear over time.

Symptoms – Knee pain, swelling and feeling as though your knee may give way at any moment are all warning signs that something could be wrong. Trouble climbing stairs or knee pain when kneeling are other common symptoms of medial meniscus knee injuries.

Treatments – Resting the knee, icing it and immobilizing the knee might be enough in certain circumstances. Often, orthoscopic knee surgery may be necessary. Common surgical procedures include arthroscopic excision (removing the damaged cartilage) and arthroscopic repair of the knee.

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What is a tibial eminence spine avulsion?

Definition – A tibial eminence is an extension of the bone attached to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which helps stabilize a person’s knee. When this bone breaks (also called a fracture) or tears (known as an avulsion), that’s known as a tibial eminence spine avulsion. There are three different types of tibial spine avulsions. Minimally displaced spine avulsions or minor tears or breaks are classified as Type I tibial eminence spine avulsions. More serious, partial fractures are Type II. Type III tibial eminence spine avulsions involve a complete tear or displaced fracture.

Common causes – Tibial eminence spine avulsions occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes include bending or twisting the knee into an awkward position. Stopping suddenly or overrating the knee can also cause tibial eminence spine avulsions. That’s why sports like soccer, skiing and basketball are sometimes the cause of these knee injuries.

Symptoms – Knee pain, swelling and difficulty straightening the knee are all common symptoms of a tibial eminence spine avulsion. To know for sure, have an experienced orthopedic knee surgeon examine you.

Treatments – Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your knee injury. For type I fractures, open reduction or extension casting is often sufficient to repair this knee damage. Type II fractures often require internal fixation (ORIF). Type III fractures may require ORIF or arthroscopic knee surgery. The key is making sure the tibial eminence has been reduced and the bone has been properly attached to the ACL.

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What is osteonecrosis of the knee?

Definition – When the blood supply to a bone becomes cut off, that part of the bone will die, a condition known as osteonecrosis. When osteonecrosis occurs in the knee, this medical condition often affects the femoral condyle, a bone located on the inner side of the knee. Osteonecrosis can also affect the bone near the top of the shin (tibial joint surface) or the bone on the outside of the knee (lateral femoral condyle).

Common causes – No one knows for sure exactly why osteonecrosis occurs in the knee. A direct blow to the knee or a knee fracture may be the reason why the blood supply was cut off to the bone. Other times, doctors suspect that osteoarthritis may be the cause. Obesity, lupus, kidney transplants and sickle-cell anemia are also often associated osteonecrosis.

Symptoms – Knee pain – especially a dull, throbbing pain – is the most common symptom of osteonecrosis. As the disease progresses, walking or standing up can become much more difficult and painful. There are often four stages of development with osteonecrosis. Stage I symptoms include the ones described above. Bone decay may not be visible in an X-ray. Stage II osteonecrosis bone decay should start to become visible in an X-ray. Osteonecrosis is clearly visible in an X-ray by stage III. At stage IV, the bone will likely start to collapse, destroying the cartilage in the knee as well.

Treatments – Surgery is almost always necessary to address bone damage and cartilage loss caused by osteonecrosis. There are several surgical options available depending on the severity of the bone damage. These procedures may include drilling into the affected area to relieve pressure on the bone to total knee replacement (TKR) surgery. Your orthopedic knee surgeon can discuss all the options available to you after examining you and diagnosing exactly what’s wrong.

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What are knee angular deformities?

Definition – Many children and adults suffer from serious knee pain due to angular deformities in their knees. Some children are born with angular knee deformities. Others develop them during their childhood. Common knee angular deformities include lateral bowing of tibia, bowlegs (genu varum) and knock knees (genu valgum).

Common causes – There are many reasons why children are born with knee angular deformities or develop them over time. Reasons why include tumors, infections, a blow to the knee, rickets (a type of bone disease) and Blount’s disease, which is an abnormal growth plate on upper part of shinbone (tibia).

Symptoms – Common symptoms of knee angular deformities include bowed legs, difficulty walking or standing. Awkward walking patterns, intoeing and discomfort in the hips or ankles are also common warning signs of knee angular deformities.

Treatments – Sometimes, these conditions correct themselves over time. This is especially true children with bowed legs and knock knees. Some children’s knees and legs correct themselves over time or simply need braces or physical therapy to correct these angular deformities. However, sometimes surgery is necessary, especially if angular deformity persists after the age of 7 years old.

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What are fractures of the proximal tibia?

Definition – The shin bone (tibia) connects the ankle to the knee. If a break (or fracture) occurs on the upper part tibia, such an injury is known as a proximal tibial fracture. These injuries do not always affect the knee joint. If they do affect the knee joint, these injuries may cause additional medical issues, including improper alignment of the leg, joint imperfections or rough joint surfaces. As a result, fractures of the proximal tibia cause arthritis, reduced motion or joint instability.

Common causes – These bone fractures can happen for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes include previous or recent bone damage, overuse, infections or compromised bone matter due to cancer.

Symptoms – Knee pain (especially due to heavy lifting) is a common symptom. So are tense muscles around the knee and numbness in the foot, especially if there is nerve damage. An MRI or CT scan will likely be necessary to confirm if there’s a fracture of the proximal tibia.

Treatments – Nonsurgical treatments for a proximal tibia fracture include placing the leg in a cast. However, sometimes surgery may be necessary. Specifically, a bone graft may be necessary. Metal plates or rods may also be used to stabilize the fractured tibia.

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What is a pediatric thighbone (femur) fracture?

Definition – Children’s bones can sometimes break or fracture. One of the most common bone fractures among children involves the femur or thighbone.

Common causes – Pediatric femur fractures often occur as a result of a hard fall or direct blow to the femur. These traumatic accidents sometimes involve motor vehicle accidents. These injuries may also be the result of athletic activities like skiing, football or other contact sports.

Symptoms – Swelling, joint pain, inability to walk and reduced range of motion in the knee or hip are all common symptoms of a pediatric femur fracture. A CT scan or X-ray will likely be necessary to confirm whether or not the injury was a partial or complete femur fracture.

Treatments – Simply stabilizing the bone (either by using a cast or a brace) may be enough to heal the fractured femur, particular since children often heal better and faster than adults. Surgery may be necessary in certain circumstances, especially if the fractured bones are misaligned.

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What is a shinbone fracture?

Definition – The shinbone (also referred to as the tibia) connected the ankle to the knee. When the tibia breaks (referred to as a fracture), the person with a fractured shinbone often experiences severe pain and limited range of motion.

Common causes – Shinbone fractures occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common reasons why include a direct blow to the tibia or joint imperfections. A direct blow to the tibia often results in a fracture of the proximal tibia or upper part of the shinbone. Sports like skiing or soccer are a common cause. Tibial shift fractures along the entire length of the shinbone are also common sports injuries.

Symptoms – Trouble walking or putting weight on the injured leg are often a tell-tale sign of a fractured tibia. Other common warning signs may include numbness in the leg or foot, reduced range of the motion in the knee and tenseness in the leg.

Treatments – Immobilizing the knee and leg (often with a cast or brace) can often help with shinbone fractures. Sometimes these fractures require external plates or rods to stabilize the leg. In certain extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to properly repair the shinbone fracture. In these cases, a bone graft may be necessary to help stabilize the knee.

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