Common Knee Injuries (and What You Need To Know to Prevent Them)

Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

Medically reviewed by Dr. James Tan

Knee injuries can result from various activities, including sports and exercise. Some common injuries that require sports injury treatment and knee pain treatment include ACL tears, meniscus tears, and patellofemoral pain syndrome. While it can be tough to pinpoint the exact pain and understand what’s causing it, there are a few common types of injuries that’ll help guide you.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the symptoms and source of the emitting pain. However, shortlisting some of the most frequently occurring knee injuries can help you determine the plausible causes.

What Are the Common Causes of Knee Injuries?

  • Ligament Injuries: Knee ligament injuries are often caused by high-impact sports activities. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are caused by a sudden change in direction or getting an intense impact from an unusual angle. This is common in sports where you might take a direct hit to the front or sides of your knees.Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) and Collateral Ligament (CL) injuries are often a result of car accidents or other high-impact events that cause a direct blow to your knee.
  • Sprains and strains: The most prevalent of these that happen in young adults and mature people are ligament and tendon injuries surrounding the knee joint. Twisting the area due to an accident or collision can result in this. Anterior cruciate ligament tears, Medial collateral ligament and meniscus tears are some examples of these.
  • Knee Cartilage InjuryArticulate cartilage and shinbone contribute to the two types of cartilage in a knee joint. Pain and impaired knee function can be the result of damage to these. The C-shaped meniscus cartilage cushions the knee joint. This tear can happen due to hyperextension of the joint or twisting. Sudden locking sensation in the knee and pain are the result of this. Worn-out and torn cartilage are common for runners and other athletes especially those who often do deadlifts and squats. More often than not, the tear occurs in the meniscus.
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome: Pain around the kneecap can be caused by improper tracking of your patella. This is often called a runner’s knee and is indeed common amongst runners.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) around the knee joint can be caused by overuse or knee stress.
  • Tendinitis: The patellar tendon connecting kneecap to shinbone swells, which is the condition called Jumper’s knee. Sporting activities, running and rigorous tasks affect individuals causing patellar tendinitis. Pain in the front knee under the knee cap is a symptom of this condition. Knee cap pain treatment through medication, compression or steroid injections are all parts of knee pain treatment singapore without surgery.
  • Knee ArthritisWith many types of arthritis, most are classified as chronic conditions. Whether If it’s rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, these can cause intense pain in terms of a sustained injury.  It also causes swelling near the knee joint hindering mobility.
  • Dislocation: Dislocations can be caused by an abnormality in your bone structure as well as a fall or accident. The three bones of the knee joint can be out of their place due to high-impact force or collision. Immediate medical attention treatment for knee pain and swelling should be employed. Surgery can be recommended for this in case of nerve damage or severe pain.
  • Fractures: Breaks in the bones around the knee are often caused by high-force impacts of trauma. Falls are a common cause of fractures, and it’s common to see a ligament injury alongside an osteoporosis fracture.
  • Muscle strains: Pulls or tears in the hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles around the knee joint can be very painful.
  • Iliotibial band syndrome: Friction pain along the iliotibial band on the outer knee is very common in runners.
  • Loose bodies: Pieces of cartilage or bone can float in the knee joint after injury, which causes pain.

Without proper evaluation by a medical practitioner in a proper clinical setting, there is no proper diagnosis. However, it is not advised to bear the pain for longer periods when you can get effective treatment from our Singapore clinic. Self-diagnosis and treatment can sometimes lead to causing more damage than good. Consulting a doctor can reduce the possibility of chronic pain by a fraction.

How Do I Know If My Knee Injury Is Serious?

According to guidelines from the Mayo Clinic, you’ll want to schedule a doctor’s visit for knee injury treatment if you’re dealing with any of the following issues:

  • Redness
  • Highly visible swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pain that affects your daily routine and/or your sleep
  • Fever

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Are you experiencing knee pain when performing minor daily activities such as sitting cross-legged? Sitting cross-legged bends your knees and increases pressure in your knee joints, which can lead to pain, especially if you’re experiencing knee injuries. If your injury persists for more than 2 months, it is time to seek medical attention.

What Are the Six Symptoms of Knee Injuries?

According to Singapore Paincare, there are a few key symptoms.

  • Popping sound
  • Unable to fully straighten
  • Redness and warmth
  • Discomfort that ranges from weakness to stiffness
  • Pain (note if it hurts even when at rest)
  • Buckling/ giving way

As with all injuries, it’s crucial to trust your instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. If you suspect it might be serious, go directly to emergency care. Your doctor will conduct an X-ray or MRI to determine the underlying issue.

How Long Does Knee Injuries Take to Heal?

Recovering from an injury comes down to both the severity and your dedication to aftercare. If you’re dealing with minor pain, simply spending a day or two off your feet may be all that is necessary. If the pain remains after two days, it’s time to check with a doctor.

If you have a minor soft tissue injury, you might be looking at a couple of months of rehabilitation while severe injuries can take up to a full year to heal.

Most knee surgeries require one to two months for full rehabilitation. While you will be back on your feet fairly quickly, bear in mind that full recovery takes six months to one year and that is the timeline that your doctor will likely recommend before you resume intense activities.  In most cases, full maturation after cartilage and ligament procedures can take over a year.

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It is normal to feel knee joint stiffness after surgery, which should last 6 to 8 weeks. This is due to tight soft tissues and weak muscles around the knee. Regularly attending physio sessions would be ideal to prevent prolonged stiffness.

The key factor in successful and speedy recovery is closely following the post-op protocol. Always sticking to your doctor’s recommendations ensures that you regain strength and mobility safely and that you are working toward the unique requirements based on your specific health history and lifestyle.

What Are Some Exercises to Strengthen Your Knee?

Strength and flexibility create the foundation of healthy knees. To prevent injuries, it’s important to stay active.

Start by focusing on strength. A simple warm-up will go a long way in preventing injuries and muscle cramps. When your muscles are tight, your joint is constricted and more likely to get hurt. Likewise, cooling down after exercise is a smart way to prevent soreness and keep your muscles elastic. Getting into the habit of regular daily stretching is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health.

Once you’re stretched and ready, it’s time to focus on building muscles. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves create the support and they’ll be there to prevent injury. Do take care to follow the exercise steps correctly to prevent ankle injuries or rotator cuff tears. Your gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hamstring are also important in keeping your knees agile and injury-free. Every part of your body is connected to another so full-body fitness is the long-term key. That said, there are three key workouts that you’ll want to make part of your routine. Alternatively, running is also a good option to improve bone density in your knees.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Knee Injuries

What Lifestyle Changes May Help Avoid Chances of Re-injury In the Future?

Shifting lifestyle and some of its ways can significantly impact the healing time of a knee injury and consecutively pain caused by it. We have mentioned some of these for your idea.

  • Weight Management: Knees can deform and lose mobility due to excess body weight. Shedding off the excess pounds can improve the range of motion. By maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating a balanced diet and well-proportioned meals can help reduce the weight in some time.
  • Strength Exercises: If your physical activity is next to zero, then your knee joints will be weak. By practicing strength-training, you can work on your core muscles , quads and hamstrings. These in terms provide extra support around the knee joint. This reduces chances of knee meniscus injury, knee tendon injury and knee injury after fall. Exercises such as deadlifts with squats and maintaining plan positions can strengthen the body muscles.
  • Improve flexibility and mobility:10 minutes of stretching every day enhances the range of motion of knees. For strength and balance, light yoga should be practiced regularly. Tai-chi is also ideal to improve knee joint coordination and is adopted by many. All of these play apart in reducing knee pain.
  • Use proper form when exercising: Whether you’re walking, running, weightlifting or doing knee-intensive sports, using proper form minimizes stress on your knees. Consider working with a trainer or physical therapist to ensure good form.
  • Wear supportive shoes: Shoes with good cushioning and arch support help reduce impact on your knees when you’re active. Replace shoes regularly.
  • Listen to your body: If certain activities cause pain, avoid doing them. Rest your knees when they feel painful or overworked.
  • Use knee pads or braces: These can help stabilize and support your knees during activities that put extra pressure on them.
  • Don’t ignore pain: See a doctor if you have chronic or worsening pain. Early treatment can prevent further damage.

When Should I Consider Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery may be the best option for severe, debilitating pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments. While it is an invasive treatment, total knee replacements reliably improve the quality of life. If you are slowed down by severe pain even after following routine medication, injections, therapy, braces, and lifestyle modifications, you may be a good candidate for surgery.

Should You Exercise with a Knee Injury?

While working out is probably the last thing you feel like doing, it’s also the most useful thing you can do. According to research from Harvard Medical School, exercising is the single best thing that you can do for both the short-term and long-term health of your knee.

There are exceptions to the rules though. It’s crucial to avoid workouts if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Pain that is not improving with time
  • Pain that gets worse with activity
  • Pain that wakes you up at night

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Knee Injury?

The duration of recovery from a knee injury varies widely depending on the type and severity of the injury. Minor injuries may heal in a few weeks, while more complex injuries or surgeries may require several months.

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Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

About the Author

Dr James Tan is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon who has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.

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