Injury to structures like ligaments, muscle, tendons can cause severe knee pain. Know the different types and causes is the first step to healing a knee injury. Knee pain are mostly as a result of direct injury to the knee, when twisting, falling, pivoting and a turning motion. Structures like ligaments, tendons, muscles, menisci and cartilage provide stability to the knee joint, and when these are injured, the knee is unable to support the weight of your body and puts a lot of strain on these structures.
Many people tend to wait for it to heal by itself. You must realize that you are walking on a wound, the wound will never heal if you continue to walk on it (pull and crush the wound). This is the most common mistake we see with knee injuries.
Pain in the:
- Quadriceps tendon tear (top)
- Patella tendinitis
- Chondromalacia patella
- Intra-articular cartilage damage (deep inside)
- Arthritis of the knee joint
- Runner’s Knee
- Osgood Schlatters
- Patellar Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee)
- Cartilage/Meniscus Tear
- Knee Ligament injuries (ACL)
- Osteochondritis Dissecans
- Lateral Collateral ligament tear (outside)
- Anterior cruciate ligament tear
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Lateral Meniscus Tear
- Nerve pain
- Hamstring Tendonopathy
- Proximal Tibiofibular Joint Dislocation
- Posterior cruciate ligament tear
- Sciatic nerve entrapment (pinched nerve)
- Hamstring tendon tear
- Gastrocnemius muscle tear
- Popliteus muscle spasm
- Bakers Cyst
- Posterior Cartilage/Meniscus Tear
- Calf Strain/Tear
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Causes of knee pain
With or without trauma to the knee some pains may be worse than others if the pain comes from inside the knee joint where the bones connect.
Ligament Sprain (torn ligaments). The knee connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), and the only things holding these two large bones together are four ligaments. Ligaments are strong but not very flexible. If these are stretched beyond its boundaries, one or more of the ligaments tear. The sprains can range minor tears to complete ruptures, in which the ligament tears away from the bone and snaps (often with an ominous popping sound).
The four Knee ligaments:
- Medial Collateral ligament
- Lateral Collateral ligament
- Anterior Cruciate ligament
- Posterior Cruciate ligament
Overload and overuse injuries are more common. Overuse injuries are repetitive or constant pull on the muscles and tendons, they start to tear on a very small scale. It’s like a hand full of spaghetti stings, one by one they break and try to repair themselves but if you keep on pulling on them they never heal properly. The fibers become thick and swollen which puts more pressure on the surrounding fibers. Then more fibers will tear. Every time you move this process happens, it needs to be stopped.
Swelling around the knee cap and pain deep within the knee must be investigated to determine if the structures inside the knee are affected and how badly damaged they are.
The knee is the largest joint in the body. It depends almost entirely on soft tissue-ligaments and tendons for stability. If these structures are injured, you could be in for a long recovery.
This injury to the cartilage in the knee typically occurs when you twist the joint while putting weight on it.
Pain form the menisci give a very specific type of pain that is sharp and the knee catches or gets stuck. Usually patients can’t straighten the knee all the way without feeling a pinching feeling inside the knee or below the knee cap. Knee Meniscus injuries are quite serious.
This involves the degeneration of cartilage inside the joint and subsequent inflammation. It is the result of normal wear and tear over the years.
Tendinitis. The tendons above or below the kneecap (patella) can become inflamed, usually through overuse.
Iliotibial band syndrome. If the tendon that runs down the outer side of the knee is tight, repetitive motion (as in running or cycling) can cause the tendon to rub against the bony area at the end of the thigh bone and become irritated and inflamed.
Our experience with knee injuries
Our background in professional rugby, dance & fighting means we have seen just about every possible knee problem from ligament tears to fractured bones. Typically we see much more common complaints of overuse injuries like anterior knee pain (runners’ knee, jumpers’ knee – essentially pain on the front of the knee, behind or just below the knee cap).
Any knee pain that doesn’t relieve within 24 hours shouldn’t be ignored, since there could be damage to structures inside the knee joint that could result in chronic pain, stiffness and swelling. The surest way to get up and going again is to treat a reoccurring ache or pain right away.
We treat cruciate and collateral ligament tears, quadriceps tendon ruptures, and muscle strains on a daily basis. Although you may not have a game against the Blue Bulls this weekend, the same treatment principles can be applied for you so we provide the best possible treatment and faster recovery.
Knee Muscles injuries
- Vastus Medialis muscle – Inside and on the top of the kneecap
- Vastus Lateralis muscle – Outside and on the top of the kneecap
- Rectus femoris muscle – Straight above kneecap
- Vastus Indermediaus muscle – Deep and underneath the Recutus femoris muscle, above the kneecap
- Bicep femoris muscle – the outside of the knee at the back
- Semitendinosus muscle – on the inside of the knee
- Semimembranosus muscle – on the inside of the knee
- Medial and Lateral head of the Gastrocnemius muscles – at the back in the fold of the knee
Knee Ligament injuries
- Medial Collateral ligament (inside)
- Lateral Collateral ligament(outside)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (inside the knee joint)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (inside the knee joint)
Physiotherapist Treatment & Advice
- Determine what is damaged,
- How bad is it injured?
- Protect it
- Give it time to heal
Knee injuries: Symptoms
- Joint pain with movement
- cracking sound when bending your knee
- Swelling behind or above the kneecap
- Pain with putting weight on leg(but still able to walk)
- Pain during and after activity
- Deep burning pain
- Sharp pain with movement
- Knee getting stuck/locked
- Unable to move your knee
- Pain last more than 24 hours after activity
- Unable to put weight on the leg
- Unable to finish playing
- Severe swelling
- Visible deformity of the knee
- Unable to move knee
- Sharp electrical pain when walking
- Giving away when walking