Your knee is a complicated structure of bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments working together to keep your knee stable, yet it allows a lot of flexibility. An injury to the knee can damage several of these structures at once. Even a minor injury can damage tissues deep within the knee. Any knee damage should be looked at by your doctor. If you don't get your knee examined, you run the risk of future immobility, pain, and infection. Don't risk any of the following problems by not seeing your doctor or orthopedist about any knee injuries.
How Knees Are Damaged
The two ways in which your knees can be hurt are by accident or degeneration:
- accident — A sports injury, a fall or a car accident can all injure your knee in the same manner. A forceful blow to the knee from front, back, or sides, or a sudden twisting of the knee beyond its limits can shear bone, rupture tendons, and tear cartilage all at once. Injuries to the knee often affect several tissues requiring a long recovery.
- degeneration — The cartilage that cushions the upper and lower leg bones in the knee can wear out causing bones to rub against each other. This causes pain and inflammation and can be so severe that you can't bend your knee. The small fluid-filled sacks in the knee, or bursa, that lubricate the joint can become infected or dry out, again causing pain and inflammation. Even in young people, a knee injury that damages some of these structures can cause a slow degeneration of tissue and arthritis-like symptoms.
Holistic Treatment of Knee Injuries is Needed for a Full Recovery
All of the affected tissues in the knee must be treated to regain full movement of your knee. A car accident may require the realignment of bone fragments, reattaching tendons with metal screws, and the use of pins to repair a fractured patella (knee cap). To repair the damage caused by a degenerative process, metal appliances may be used to replace part or all of the knee joint to return its natural movement. This is why any knee problem should be seen by your doctor. You risk losing the function of your knee with so many areas affect.
The Risk You Take of Not Seeing a Doctor
Some people with a "sore knee" from an injury choose to tough it out and rely on over-the-counter pain medications. There are several problems that can result from an untreated injury including
- Osteoarthritis can occur where the knee has been injured. This is a slow degeneration of bone in the knee and results in instability and severe pain. Reconstruction of the knee is necessary to regain movement.
- Cysts can develop behind the patella which grow to become painful and inflamed. Arthroscopic surgery is used to drain these and antibiotics given to prevent them from coming back.
- Knee injuries can damage circulation in the knee. Infections can develop throughout the knee joint. Pain, swelling and eventual loss of movement of the knee happens as the infection progresses. Surgical drainage of the knee may be necessary followed by heavy doses of antibiotics.
- Small pieces of bone can die in the knee due to damage to the blood supply. This causes a painful condition called osteochondritis dissecans, resulting in a painful knee that you cannot move.
- If injured ligaments and tendons heal incorrectly, you'll develop an instability in your knee. It will feel as if your knee is giving out as you walk.
Don't risk further health problems by having any knee injury examined, regardless of how minor the injury. A little pain now can result in a disability later if you don't get your knee treated by a professional like Framingham Orthopedic Associates.