Knee Problems & Injuries

Our expert physicians have experience in the latest non-surgical and minimally invasive surgical techniques to speed your recovery

The source of knee injuries and conditions usually falls into two categories: Sudden movement that strains the knee (often sports related) or aging process putting stress on the joint and causing deterioration over time.

Common Knee Injuries

Your knee is one of the most easily injured joints, and subject to wear and tear over time that can result in pain. You ask a lot of your knee joints, especially in sports and exercise activities. Some of the most common injuries include damage to ligaments and cartilage of the knee including:

  • ACL injury - The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), located in the center of the knee can tear when changing direction rapidly, slowing down when running, landing from a jump or twisting. The ACL is the knee ligament most frequently injured by a tear or being stretched.
  • MCL injury - The medial collateral ligament (MCL) gives stability to the inner knee. MCL Injuries usually result from a direct blow to the outside of the knee. These types of injuries often occur in contact sports, such as football or soccer.
  • PCL injury - The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), located in the back of the knee, can result in injury through a blow to the front of the knee or when an athlete makes a simple misstep on the playing field.
  • Torn cartilage or meniscus - The meniscus, a tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the upper (femur) and lower (tibia) bones of the knee, can tear when twisting, cutting, pivoting, decelerating, or being tackled. It often involves direct contact.

Common Knee Conditions

Overuse of the knee joint and the aging process can cause knee pain and problems. The most frequent knee conditions include:

  • Osteoarthritis - This “wear and tear” arthritis, the most common form of the disease, affects 17 percent of the U.S. population. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain. Knee osteoarthritis is characterized by pain that increases with activity, inflammation. stiffness and loss of mobility that makes it more difficult to walk, stand or get in and out of chairs.
  • Tendonitis - Inflammation of the tendons, the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles, may result from overuse of a tendon during certain activities such as running, jumping, or cycling.
  • Bursitis - Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that protect muscles and tendons results from repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the knee joint.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Sometimes, other contributing factors can make your knee pain worse. These can include:

  • Genetics
  • Repetitive, high-impact activities
  • Previous surgeries
  • Obesity, which can cause additional wear and tear on knee joints
  • Injuries, including fractures that have not healed properly or old sports injuries

Be sure to talk with your doctor about any additional factors that may be contributing to your knee pain.

Overview

Common Knee Injuries

Your knee is one of the most easily injured joints, and subject to wear and tear over time that can result in pain. You ask a lot of your knee joints, especially in sports and exercise activities. Some of the most common injuries include damage to ligaments and cartilage of the knee including:

  • ACL injury - The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), located in the center of the knee can tear when changing direction rapidly, slowing down when running, landing from a jump or twisting. The ACL is the knee ligament most frequently injured by a tear or being stretched.
  • MCL injury - The medial collateral ligament (MCL) gives stability to the inner knee. MCL Injuries usually result from a direct blow to the outside of the knee. These types of injuries often occur in contact sports, such as football or soccer.
  • PCL injury - The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), located in the back of the knee, can result in injury through a blow to the front of the knee or when an athlete makes a simple misstep on the playing field.
  • Torn cartilage or meniscus - The meniscus, a tough, rubbery cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the upper (femur) and lower (tibia) bones of the knee, can tear when twisting, cutting, pivoting, decelerating, or being tackled. It often involves direct contact.

Common Knee Conditions

Overuse of the knee joint and the aging process can cause knee pain and problems. The most frequent knee conditions include:

  • Osteoarthritis - This “wear and tear” arthritis, the most common form of the disease, affects 17 percent of the U.S. population. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain. Knee osteoarthritis is characterized by pain that increases with activity, inflammation. stiffness and loss of mobility that makes it more difficult to walk, stand or get in and out of chairs.
  • Tendonitis - Inflammation of the tendons, the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles, may result from overuse of a tendon during certain activities such as running, jumping, or cycling.
  • Bursitis - Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that protect muscles and tendons results from repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the knee joint.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Sometimes, other contributing factors can make your knee pain worse. These can include:

  • Genetics
  • Repetitive, high-impact activities
  • Previous surgeries
  • Obesity, which can cause additional wear and tear on knee joints
  • Injuries, including fractures that have not healed properly or old sports injuries

Be sure to talk with your doctor about any additional factors that may be contributing to your knee pain.

Highly skilled specialists at Indiana University Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine have expertise in treating every type of knee injury or condition. Your IU Health team will develop a plan of care to fit your individual needs, including non-surgical and surgical options.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Your physician may first recommend non-surgical treatments and lifestyle changes to provide relief for your knee pain, including:

  • Exercise conditioning and strengthening - Low-impact exercise and gentle strength training can help keep the muscles strong around your joints and retain your range of motion.
  • Weight-loss - Losing weight significantly slows or stops the progression of arthritis. It decreases the amount of force your knee joints must tolerate.
  • Activity modification and assistive devices - You can avoid or minimize the activities that increase your pain. Rest and sleep can provide relief as well as using a cane or a walker.
  • Medication - Using over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, Meloxicam, Nabumetone or Celebrex can provide pain relief.
  • Injections - Steroid injections can provide short-term joint pain relief.

Surgical Expertise

If non-surgical treatment does not provide relief or meet your goals, your team at IU Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine may recommend surgery. Highly trained IU Health orthopedic surgeons have experience in the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques to speed your recovery.

They have fellowship training and teach other surgeons in their advanced techniques both as faculty members at the Indiana University School of Medicine and as lecturers and teachers around the country.

Treatment

Highly skilled specialists at Indiana University Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine have expertise in treating every type of knee injury or condition. Your IU Health team will develop a plan of care to fit your individual needs, including non-surgical and surgical options.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Your physician may first recommend non-surgical treatments and lifestyle changes to provide relief for your knee pain, including:

  • Exercise conditioning and strengthening - Low-impact exercise and gentle strength training can help keep the muscles strong around your joints and retain your range of motion.
  • Weight-loss - Losing weight significantly slows or stops the progression of arthritis. It decreases the amount of force your knee joints must tolerate.
  • Activity modification and assistive devices - You can avoid or minimize the activities that increase your pain. Rest and sleep can provide relief as well as using a cane or a walker.
  • Medication - Using over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, Meloxicam, Nabumetone or Celebrex can provide pain relief.
  • Injections - Steroid injections can provide short-term joint pain relief.

Surgical Expertise

If non-surgical treatment does not provide relief or meet your goals, your team at IU Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine may recommend surgery. Highly trained IU Health orthopedic surgeons have experience in the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques to speed your recovery.

They have fellowship training and teach other surgeons in their advanced techniques both as faculty members at the Indiana University School of Medicine and as lecturers and teachers around the country.

Patient Stories for Knee Problems & Injuries

Medline Plus

The National Institutes of Health offers information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues by providing reliable, up-to-date health information.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

OrthoInfo provides information about musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, treatments and prevention. Developed by orthopaedic surgeons and members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, here you can access articles and videos.

Resources

Medline Plus

The National Institutes of Health offers information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues by providing reliable, up-to-date health information.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

OrthoInfo provides information about musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, treatments and prevention. Developed by orthopaedic surgeons and members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, here you can access articles and videos.