Common Knee Injuries
Here are guidelines for the knee injuries doctors see most often:
What goes wrong: The cartilage in the knee breaks down, allowing the bones to rub together.
Who gets it: Could be anybody: One likely cause is something called "malalignment," where the upper and lower legs don't line up correctly. Being bowlegged or knock-kneed can make cartilage damage more likely.
Ways to prevent it: To counteract malalignment, your doc may prescribe physical therapy. Regular exercise can also help strengthen and balance the body.
How to fix it: If you've already got knee arthritis, avoid high-impact activities (it may be worth swapping running for something less stressful, like in-line skating). In the most debilitating cases, a knee replacement is the best option, but once you've got an artificial joint, you've got to treat it tenderlyno more full-court basketball.
The latest treatment: Gender-specific knee replacements the manufacturer claims will allow for differences in size and bone structure
Knee cartilage tear
What goes wrong: The cartilage in your knee rips.
Who gets it: Anyone who squats. In sports, that would be baseball catchers, weight lifters, and football players.
Ways to prevent it: Protect your knees by building up your quads with cycling.
How to fix it: Surgeons often remove the damaged part of the meniscus, the cartilage that cushions your knee.
The latest treatment: A collagen scaffold, which is attached to the remaining meniscus and allows new tissue to grow, is available in Europe. It's still being studied for use in the United States.
What goes wrong: The anterior cruciate ligament, which runs diagonally through the knee joint, tears.
Who gets it: All kinds of athletes, but women are especially vulnerablepossibly because of hip structure, differences in strength, and conditioning.
Ways to prevent it: Try tai chi to improve your balance.
How to fix it: Surgery is common if the ACL is badly torn and the knee is unstable.
The latest treatment: Rather than replacing the torn ACL with one bundle of tendon fibers, some doctors are trying a technique that uses two bundles, to more closely mimic the anatomy of the original ligament. But the jury's out on how it stacks up against prevailing treatment.
Click on the links below for guidelines on other common sports injuries: