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What Can Go Wrong: Knee Injuries

Knees; they play a vital role in marriage proposals, playing with kids, and “Tebowing”, but the knees have to deal with a tremendous amount of force to allow us to do these things. In fact, the knees of 150 pound runner covering just a single mile have to endure between 60-90 tons of force on each leg. Knees are extremely important and endure tremendous stress. It’s no wonder that they’re frequently injured.

Meniscal tears are among the most common knee injuries. Athletes, particularly those who play contact sports, are especially at risk for meniscal tears, though anyone at any age can tear a meniscus.

Anatomy of Menisci:

Menisci are Semilunar (half-moon) shaped structures present on the knee. The medial side is 50% larger than the lateral side, but the lateral menisci are thicker than medial side. From above, the medial side looks semicircular and lateral looks more circular.

knee-anatomy

Because 74% of total weight of the menisci is water, when the knee undergoes compression during weight bearing much of the fluid is squeezed out into the joint space. This provides lubrication to promote gliding of the joint structure.

knee-anatomy2

Meniscal Injuries:

Menisci become stiffer and less resilient with age and are injured similarly to ligamentous structures. Peak incidences occur between the ages of 21 and 40 years with medial menisci tears being more common than lateral tears.

Menisci injuries are caused by compression, tensile, and shearing forces. Tears are classified according to age, location, or axis of orientation. Peak incidence occurs in men between the ages of 21-40 and women 11-20 and 61-70.

SYMPTOMS: Localized pain and joint line tenderness are the most common findings. Pain occurs on rotation and extreme knee bending; popping, grinding, or clicking sensation can lead to knee buckling, locking or giving way. Your Health Care Practitioner can assess the knee joint and will be able to diagnose meniscus injuries through various tests.

MANAGEMENT: Ice, compression, rest, NSAID’s, and crutches when needed. A physician can determine if surgical repair is necessary. How well a meniscus tear responds to non-surgical treatments will depend on the degree of tearing. Thankfully, in most cases the damage is not significant enough for surgery. Exercising the knee is one of the best meniscus tear treatment options both short term and long term, with or without surgical intervention. The aim of knee exercise is to increase the strength of the muscles around the knee so that the amount of weight going through the cartilage is reduced, allowing it to heal.

Healthy knees mean that bending down to propose, play with kids or Tebow doesn’t become an excruciatingly painful experience than can lead to longer-term mobility challenges.

Talk to your physiotherapist at BodyMend to learn about ways to strengthen your knees and prevent pain and injury. To book a physio appointment email us at info@bodymend.ca

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