Causes of Knee Injuries and How to Overcome Them
This is a guest post by Richard who is a freelance writer and a fitness aficionado in his spare time, amongst other things. He welcomes your social visits on Twitter as @thefreshhealth and over on Google+ as +Writer Rich.
It is all well and good starting a new fitness regime in a bid to feel and look healthier, but it’s worth noting that doing sport and fitness carries risks and doing a bit of research before you begin your new exercise regime will pay dividends and ensure that you don’t limp off before the final whistle.
Most sports and exercises apply pressure to the knees and they are heavily involved in activities that require jumping, running, bending and stretching. The knees are highly robust but there is a high risk of injury, especially if you are carrying out activities on uneven surfaces, playing a sport that involves physical contact or sudden movements, or you participate in exercises that involve repetitive movements involving the knee joints.
Common Causes of Knee Injuries
One of the most common causes of knee pain is injuries, which occur as a result of twisting the knee, falling awkwardly or experiencing direct impact. Sports that are commonly associated with knee injuries include alpine skiing, football, basketball, jogging and long distance and marathon running.
Risk factors for knee injuries include age, gender, body weight, general strength and fitness and mechanical problems. The risk of knee injuries caused by sporting activities is higher in young people, although conditions such as osteoarthritis are much more common in older people. Being overweight increases your risk of injury because the knees are under greater pressure, so losing weight will help to reduce the risk of many types of injury, as well as decreasing your risk of serious health conditions, including heart diseases, diabetes, strokes and certain forms of cancer.
Types of Knee Injury
Knee injuries commonly involve the connective soft tissue surrounding the knee joint, including the ligaments, cartilage and tendons, although it is possible for the bones to be injured. The most common injuries include ACL injury, torn meniscus and knee bursitis. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) connects the thigh bone to the shin and it can be torn or damaged by swift movement, twisting or direct impact. It is most common in basketball and skiing due to quick changes in direction. The meniscus is effectively a shock absorber in the knee and can be torn if you change direction quickly while the knee is bearing weight. Bursitis occurs when the bursae (fluid-filled sacs around the joint) become inflamed.
Overcoming Knee Injuries
The treatment plan for knee injuries depends on the severity and type of injury. Some injuries that are mild will heal with time without the need for formal treatment, while others will require more intensive treatment. If the ligaments or tendons are badly damaged, rest is essential to prevent further wear and tear. In some cases rest and physiotherapy may be sufficient, but in more severe cases surgery is often recommended. Physiotherapy, which is usually introduced gradually, is designed to slowly increase strength, flexibility and mobility.
If you experience symptoms such as pain which gets worse when you move or use your knee joint, inflammation or instability (this is often described as feeling like the knee is giving way) you may have injured your knee. You should see a doctor before exercising or placing strain on your knees.
Preventing Knee Injuries
Injuries are part and parcel of both amateur and elite sports, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of picking up an injury. Try to avoid playing sport and doing exercise on uneven ground, always wear supportive, well-fitting footwear and ensure that you warm up fully before exercise and cool down afterwards