As the number of student-athletes continues to rise in the U.S. so does the risk of sports-related injuries. According to Stanford’s Children Health, more than 3.5 million children and teens experience a sports-related injury annually. DMOS Orthopaedic Centers’ Dr. Joseph Brunkhorst, Sports Medicine, Knee, Hip and Shoulder Surgeon and Dr. Matthew DeWall, Sports Medicine, Hip and Knee Surgeon provide insights to the common sports-related knee injuries they treat.
How does the knee work?
Your knee is one of the more complex joints in your body because it has multiple parts. The femur, tibia, and patella are the three bones that make up the knee. Your ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL are ligaments that hold the bones together. The patella is a bone embedded within a tendon or muscle. Due to this unusual tissue attachment, it is prone to high stress and load which can often lead to injuries when playing sports.
What are the most common knee injuries?
Dr. Brunkhorst said he sees a variety of sports-related injuries. Overuse injuries are the most common causes of sports injuries. Below are some of the more common conditions.
- Runner’s Knee occurs from overuse when the kneecap moves incorrectly over the grove of the thighbone when you straighten and bend your knee.
- Jumper’s Knee results from the repetitive stress jumping places on the knee. The patella tendon (the ligament that connects the kneecap to the shin bone) is strained causing micro-tears and even collagen deterioration.
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury typically happens when a person falls or twists the knee joint resulting in a sprain or tear.
- Patella Dislocations is usually the result of a hard blow or fall to the knee causing the patella or kneecap to partially or completely dislocate causing pain and loss of function.
- Meniscus Tears develop when a person twists the knee causing a tear. Many people feel a “pop” when their meniscus is torn.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears commonly occur when a person changes direction quickly, stops suddenly, lands on the knee incorrectly after a jump or from direct contact. You may hear a “pop” and feel your knee give out when you sustain an ACL injury.
How can I prevent knee injuries?
DeWall explains that the knees of children and teens may be more susceptible to chronic and overuse injuries due to the lack of cross-training as well as strengthening, stretching and conditioning exercises.
“These more ‘boring’ aspects of sports are often overlooked or resisted by younger athletes, but can be vital to joint health,” said Dr. DeWall.
In addition, to cross-training and warmup routines, Dr. Brunkhorst recommends parents listen and talk to their child to ensure they are not trying to play through pain.
What to do if you have a knee injury?
If your child sustains a knee injury when playing a sport, it is important to rest the injured knee and contact your local physician. Until you are able to see your physician consider using the RICE method – rest, ice, gentle compression, and elevation.