Frequently Asked Questions Ė knee

 

  1. How do I know if my knee has been seriously injured or just sprained?

The amount of pain and swelling is a good clue. If you are unable to walk properly and need to use crutches, you may have a serious injury. To determine the extent of the injury, you should be examined by a sports physician.

  1. What is the function of articular cartilage?

The articular cartilage is the smooth white cap on the end of the bone. (Similar to the white cap on the end of a chicken bone) It provides the shock absorption, the smooth gliding surface between the 2 ends of the bone that constitutes the joint and the lubrication of the joint.  

  1. What types of activities cause damage to the articular cartilage?

Jumping, pounding, twisting sports may cause damage to the joint. Activities such as cycling cause the least, and basketball has the greatest potential for cartilage injury.

  1. What are the symptoms of cartilage damage?

Pain and swelling of the knee joint are symptoms of damage to the articular cartilage. However, some damage may result with minimal symptoms. Repeated small injuries over years may eventually cause damage without significant symptoms.

  1. Can damage to the articular cartilage be fixed?

Yes, with reservations. The injury can be repaired or the surface replaced surgically in some serious situations.

  1. Can new cartilage be grown inside my knee?

Yes. In the case of a serious injury where the entire surface of cartilage has been damaged, a small biopsy of remaining cartilage may be removed, sent to a laboratory where new cells are grown. Then, in a second operation, the new cells are transplanted into the defect in the knee.

  1. What does the meniscus do?

The meniscus is a piece of gristle that provides shock absorption, stability, and nutrition to the knee joint.

  1. Why does a torn meniscus cause pain?

The torn fragments of the meniscus may become trapped between the ends of the bone and cause a painful locking or catching sensation.

  1. Why is a meniscus sometimes repaired and sometimes removed?

If the meniscus is shredded, it canít be repaired. If the tear is clean and fresh (acute) then the fragment may be repaired with sutures or absorbable fixators.

  1. Will my knee wear out early if part of my meniscus has been removed.

Yes, but it depends upon how much. The more meniscus that is removed the faster the knee will wear out.

  1. What does it mean if my knee crackles and pops?

Generally the cracks and pops that occur with bending down into a squat are normal. The noises that occur going up stairs are usually normal also. However, if the cracks are painful, a sports physician should assess the joint.

  1. What causes a knee to give out?

Loose bodies, torn menisci, and  torn ligaments all may cause a knee to give out. This is generally a significant symptom and should be investigated.

  1. What causes pain underneath my kneecap?

Pain under the kneecap is called patello-femoral pain. It can be caused by numerous conditions including chondromalacia patella, a common degenerative aging condition of the articular cartilage of the undersurface of the patella. 

  1. Does physical therapy help for patello-femoral pain?

Physical therapy helps reduce the pain and swelling as well as strengthens the quadriceps muscle(anterior thigh muscle) The muscle becomes weak when the joint is painful. If the joint pain can be reduced and the muscle strengthened, most of the symptoms will improve.

  1. Do neoprene braces or sleeves for the knee help reduce knee pain?

Yes. They may help to improve the proprioception(joint positioning) of the joint as well as keep the knee warm.

  1. What kinds of exercises are good for my knees?

The best exercises are biking, and water exercises such as swimming. These non-weight bearing exercises help to strengthen the muscles around the joint, but do not stress the joint.