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Knee Pain in Athletes: Recognizing and Managing Sports-Related Injuries

December 28th, 2023Sports MedicineOrthoHC

There are many causes of knee pain among athletes, including overuse or sudden-impact injuries. Athletes must recognize and manage sports-related knee injuries to prevent long-term damage and ensure a timely return to their sport. This article describes some common causes of knee pain as well as when and why it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist/sports medicine doctor.

Common Types of Athletic Knee Injuries

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury: The ACL is a ligament that stabilizes the knee. This type of injury is common during sports involving sudden stops, changing direction, or jumping. A common indication that your ACL may be torn is a popping sensation or sound, along with sudden, intense pain, swelling, and instability of the knee.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury: A direct blow to the outside of the knee often injures the MCL, located on the inner side of the knee. MCL injuries can occur during contact sports. Pain on the inner side of the knee, accompanied by swelling and instability, may indicate an MCL sprain.

Meniscus Tear: A Meniscus tear is an injury that occurs when the cartilage pads in the knee joint tear. The meniscus serves as a shock absorber. The meniscus can be torn by athletes while twisting or rotating their knees. Signs that you may have torn the meniscus include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. There may be a feeling of catching or locking in the knee.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS): PFPS is a condition in which the cartilage under the kneecap is damaged due to injury or overuse. Symptoms may involve pain around or behind the kneecap, worsened by repetitive jumping or other activities, such as running.

Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome: ITB syndrome often occurs in cyclists or runners and due to friction between the ITB and the lateral femoral epicondyle (i.e., a prominent point of the femur that serves as the attachment site for a large ligament in the knee). Pain may be experienced on the outer side of the knee, usually when bending your knee repeatedly.

Why See An Orthopedic Specialist?

If you are an athlete, you may know that an injury or other cause of knee pain is one of the quickest ways to take you out of your game. An orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine helps athletes get back to what’s important as soon as possible. They do this by employing several treatment and prevention strategies, including:

  • Comprehensive orthopedics
  • A wide range of in-house treatment options
  • Conservative treatment options or advanced surgical techniques, depending on the knee injury/condition
  • Continuum of care in one location that results in better outcomes
  • Expert treatment of injuries to the musculoskeletal system (including your bones, muscles, and joints)
  • Preventative care involving education on proper training techniques and conditioning to minimize the risk of injuries during physical activities
  • Individualized treatment planning
  • Expert opinion on when it’s safe for athletes to return to your sport after an injury

Schedule Your Appointment Today

An orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine can offer a much wider range of treatment options for knee pain than other sports medicine doctors. Early intervention and appropriate treatment and rehabilitation are key to a successful recovery from sports-related knee injuries. Contact us today at The Orthopedic Health Center in Hudson County to request a consultation if you’ve had a recent sports injury; we can offer you an accurate diagnosis, prompt and effective intervention, and a personalized plan of care to get you back in the game as soon as possible.

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