Knee injuries are common in mountain communities such as ours. With skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, and hikers, it's imperative that this crucial joint be healthy and fully functional.
Luckily, at VSON our doctors are very experienced in the treatment of knee injuries, where treatment varies greatly depending upon the severity and exact cause of injury.
Let's talk about some of the most common knee injuries.
The ACL Tear
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is known as the most commonly injured ligament in our knee. In many of these cases, people injure the ligament in sports like skiing, soccer, and tennis, where there is cutting and pivoting action.
Luckily our success rate in operating on the ACL has improved dramatically in the last 20 years, giving athletes a good chance of recovering fully and regaining their ability to compete at a high level, or to continue doing their chosen activities. This is good news for the skiers, bikers, and other athletes we see on a daily basis. Tune into your favorite professional sports league, and you are bound to see a top performer who has bounced back from a major ACL injury.
MCL and LCL Injuries
There are two other ligaments in the knee that are prone to injury: the medial collateral ligament (MCL) found on the side of the knee closest to the other knee, and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) found on the opposite side of the knee.
When overstretched, these ligaments may tear, resulting in instability.
Ligament tears may occur:
In the middle of the ligament
Where the ligament attaches to the bone
On either end of the ligament
The force of the injury may also tear additional/multiple ligaments, which is why it's best to get your particular injury evaluated by a specialist. A proper diagnosis will ensure that your injury is treated correctly, resulting in full recovery.
The Meniscus and Meniscus Tears
The meniscus is another structure in the knee that can be compromised due to injury. The two menisci act like "shock absorbers "in the knee, forming a gasket between the shinbone and the thighbone. That's why we refer to the meniscus as the "cushion cartilage".
Meniscus injuries occur in any age group, but the tear will often show different characteristics that coincide with the age of the patient:
In younger people, the meniscus is usually tougher and more rubbery, as it hasn't faced the wear-and-tear present in the older patient. Therefore, we often see tears from forceful twisting injuries in the younger demographic.
Aging adults may have a higher chance of meniscus tears from more minor movements due to the wear-and-tear factor. This is why we see older golfers, for instance, tear their meniscus just by reaching down to pick a ball out of a hole.
Articular Cartilage Injuries
Articular cartilage issues in the knee joint are often the result of “wear and tear” injury from repetitive use. However, they can also result from acute trauma.
Injured areas, called lesions, may show up as tears or "potholes " in the surface of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones.
A tear that goes through the cartilage fully is referred to as a "full-thickness" lesion. When this happens, surgery is usually recommended.
To identify the procedure that will work best for your particular injury, your surgery will identify and consider various factors.
To find out more about our Knee & Sports Medicine Specialists, please click the link below.