Common Knee Injuries

Knee injuries can affect people of all ages but are especially common in the aging population due to degeneration.  Why are knee injuries so common?  The knees support our weight, in fact, they support 3 times our weight with every step. If you weigh 150 lbs., each step you take is 800 lbs. of pressure on the knee joints.  

Whether it’s from aging, arthritis, engaging in ballistic sports such as basketball, skiing, gymnastics or other physical activities, our knees take the brunt of force and pressure throughout our daily living undertakings.  

The knee is a complex large joint in the body and is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons that connect to the surrounding bones, which allows for flexion, extension and movements of the knee and leg. 

Knee Anatomy 

  • Three bones meet to form your knee joint: your thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella).
  • The ends of the femur and tibia, and the back of the patella are covered with articular cartilage. This connective tissue helps your knee bones glide smoothly during flexion and extension.
  • Two c-shaped pieces of meniscal cartilage act as “shock absorbers” between your femur and tibia. The meniscus is strong yet cushions the knee joint, and helps stabilize the knee and leg.  
  • Tendons connect muscle to bone. 
  • Bones are connected to other bones by ligaments. The knee has four primary ligaments that hold the knee together.
    • Collateral ligaments hold the bones on the side of your knees together, and control side to side movement.  
    • Cruciate ligaments are located on the inside of the knee joint. They cross each other to form an “X” with the anterior cruciate ligament in front and the posterior cruciate ligament in back. The cruciate ligaments control the back-and-forth motion of your knee.

7 Most Common Types of Injuries 

Common knee injuries include sprains, dislocations, fractures, and ligament tears. Depending on your age, your overall health and the severity of your injury, many common knee injuries can be successfully treated with conservative measures like resting, bracing, biologics, and physical therapy exercises. The seven most common knee injuries are as follows:

  1. Fractures
  2. Dislocations
  3. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  4. Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  5. Collateral Ligament Injuries
  6. Meniscal Tears
  7. Tendon Tears

Knee Injuries Symptoms

When you injure your knee, it’s usually fairly evident. However, over time, common knee injuries can progress, especially if they are not treated initially.  Knee injury progression can lead to more severe circumstances and as we age, that includes arthritis and degeneration of the knee joint. Initial symptoms of knee injuries are as follows:

  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Redness and warmth to the touch
  • Weakness or instability
  • Popping or crunching noises
  • Inability to fully straighten the knee

Risk Factors for Knee Injuries 

Although it can happen to anyone, certain people are more susceptible to knee injuries. If you are overweight, the excess pounds make it difficult for your body to be properly supported by your knees. If a person is particularly weak or lacks balance or flexibility, they may encounter injuries due to falling off balance, the inability to support their weight, or from stiff muscles and tendons that tear easily.  

Sports and physical activity, as we mentioned above, can also play a role in injury. If you are a weekend warrior, or someone who enjoys tennis for example, you may be torquing your knees and also may be in poor alignment and posture during certain movements, which also will exacerbate knee conditions.

Common risk factors for knee injuries:

  • Excess weight.
  • Lack of muscle flexibility or strength
  • Certain sports or occupations
  • Previous injury

Knee Injuries diagnosis 

It’s important to seek medical attention if you have pain or swelling in your knee(s).  Letting an injury go, will only make it “angrier” and the progression of the injury will eventually lead to a poorer prognosis and recovery than those that get medical treatment at the onset of injury.

Diagnostic Imaging

Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine provides diagnostic imaging through X-rays, CT scans and other innovative digital imaging techniques, which deliver insight into the musculoskeletal and neuroskeletal structures of injured, degenerated, or pre- and post-surgical sights. We have a comprehensive advanced in-house diagnostic imaging center. Upon completion of your images, they are scanned directly to your orthopedic surgeon for review.  

Along with lab tests and physical examination, the following are the top diagnostic imaging performed to diagnose knee injuries:


Orthopedic X-rays are primarily used to view bones and joints. The X-ray beam passes through the body and provides details of bone, joints, and some soft tissue in black and white images. These are used to detect injury, fractures, degenerative disease, and other conditions.

Computed Tomography (CT)

Patients lie in a machine that rotates around them while taking a series of X-rays. These images are sent to a software program that creates slices of images and cross sections of the body. CT scans provide intricate detail of bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels for diagnostic purposes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRIs produce 3D anatomical images via a sophisticated magnetic field technology. MRIs are performed within a machine that the patient comfortably lies in; there are also open MRIs for patients with special conditions. The magnetic force pairs with protons and produces detailed images, while contrast agents are often given intravenously to increase the image definition.

High frequency sound waves are used to detect and create detailed soft tissue images via an advanced software technology. A conducting gel is applied, and a small handheld device smoothly scans the area of concern. Ultrasound imaging is also used for PRP (platelet rich plasma) guided injections.

Knee Injuries Treatments 

Knee treatment depends on the severity of the knee’s injury and degeneration. 

Conservative treatment is always an optimal place to start. Resting the knee (immobilization) is critical to help tamp down inflammation.  Immobilization can be better controlled with a brace or wrap. Taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is often helpful, and prescription pain medications may be necessary in severe cases. 

Physical therapy is highly effective in helping to improve range of motion, strengthening the surrounding muscles, training patients to avoid reinjury, and aiding in healing. 

There are also injectables like corticosteroid injections. These are anti-inflammatory injectables that tamp down swelling internally.

Regenerative medicine is a remarkable way to treat damaged tissues directly within the joint. This is a safe and natural alternative to surgery and has helped numerous people find relief and treat the root cause of their condition.

Surgical treatment

If the knee is severely injured due to fracture, or to the point where patients are in constant pain, can’t move their legs properly, have severe stiffness or disfigurement of the knee or leg, surgery is often necessary.  To fully restore function to your leg orthopedic surgeons can do arthroscopic (minimally invasive surgery or open surgery for more in-depth injuries.

Choosing Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine will put you on the path to recovery with optimal results.

Why choose Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine for the best diagnostic imaging services?

More than innovative state-of-the-art treatment options and decades of expertise, the board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine emphasize an uncommon value—Genuine, personalized orthopedic and sports medicine care.


1. What are the three most common knee injuries?

Dislocations, sprains and tears are the most common knee injuries.

2. How do I know what type of knee injury I have?

If you have extreme pain, limp, have swelling, lor hear a popping or clicking noise when you move your knee, or at the onset of the injury, you should see an orthopedic professional.  

3. How do you know if you tore a ligament in your knee?

Torn ligaments are common injuries, but very painful. If you experience severe pain with injury or lingering pain after, if you have difficulty putting weight on your knee or leg, or if you have sudden swelling, there is a likelihood that you’ve experienced a tendon tear. 

Focusing On You

As healthcare is ever changing, Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine, is doing things differently…

  • About Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. Christopher R. Sforzo, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand and upper extremity surgery. He provides expert care in the treatment of problems involving the shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. He performs many procedures using mini
  • About Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. Christopher L. Dillingham, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained in hand, shoulder, and arm surgery. He specializes in the treatment of problems with rotator cuff disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injury, joint replacement, arthritis sur
  • About Charles E. Stewart, M.D. Charles E. Stewart M.D. is a board-certified, Johns Hopkins fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in adult complex reconstruction of the lower extremity.  His specialties include lower extremity sports injuries, meniscal injuries, ACL reconstruction, partial knee replacement,
  • About Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. Philip A. Meinhardt, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and fellowship trained spine surgeon. He specializes in adult spinal surgeries including reconstruction of spinal deformities, minimally invasive/microscopic spinal procedures, decompression, spinal instrumentation, fusion



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