Knee injuries

The most commonly injured joint, the knee is often hurt by a strong blow, such as a fall during skiing, or a direct hit during a football, basketball or rugby game. When injured, there’s usually swelling and it’s painful to put weight on the leg.

Severe cases may bruise the bone or damage the cartilage or ligaments.

The knee has two types of cartilage. The meniscus, a crescent-shaped disc, absorbs shock between the thigh and lower leg bones. The other type of cartilage covers the ends of the bones where they meet, allowing them to glide against one another.

Four ligaments support the knee:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

These four form a complex support structure for the knee, and damage to any of these can be excruciating.

How is a knee injury treated?

Initially, a physical therapist will focus on stopping pain and swelling, sometimes with ice, electrical stimulation and rest. Then the therapist will introduce exercises to restore normal knee movement. This may include gentle stretching, and careful pressure.

Other routines aim to improve the strength of the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh. Patients may also wear a knee brace for support when they return to their sport.