Knee injuries can occur with activities like jogging, basketball, tennis or inline skating. When we change direction, twist with our feet planted, stop suddenly, or jump and land awkwardly, our knees can take a hit. To treat simple knee sprains and strains, rest, ice packs and elevation are usually all you need.
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But if you also have arthritis, a painful condition called synovitis can develop. Synovitis is an inflammation of the knee’s lining, which causes stiffness, throbbing, aching and swelling. Fortunately, over-the-counter or prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs usually bring relief.
With arthritis, Carly Day, MD, a Cleveland Clinic sports medicine specialist, says that it’s usually better to first try non-operative, conservative treatment like physical therapy, pain medications, weight loss (if needed) and steroid injections.
Surgical options for knee injuries
However, other serious knee injuries may require surgery. The most common of these injuries:
• Torn meniscus – a tear of the cartilage cushion between the upper and lower leg bones, signaled by a sharp pain when rising from a squat. Surgery is usually required to remove jagged, frayed cartilage.
• Torn ligament – a tear of one of the tissue bands that connect bones — usually, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The knee feels unstable and often “gives way” during activity. Physical rehabilitation and surgical reconstruction will stabilize it.
Advanced repair and reconstruction techniques are available to treat severe knee injuries, including minimally invasive scope (arthroscopic) repairs.
When arthritis damages cartilage in just one portion of the knee — typically the medial compartment — partial knee replacement is another option. A full replacement may be required if arthritis has damaged all three compartments of the knee.
Keep your knees strong all year round
To help prevent spring and summer knee injuries, try flexibility training, weight training and low-impact aerobics over the winter. Use a stationary bike or treadmill. Our experts suggest you pace yourself and ease gradually into your favorite activities. If you have arthritis, ask your doctor or physical therapist about safe exercises that won’t cause further knee deterioration.
This summer, keep your knees strong, safe and stable — and have fun!