Sports Injuries in the Knee

The knee is a complex joint.  Because of the complexity of its parts, the ordinary person is susceptible to having a knee injury.  Normal use of the knees plus participation in sports increases the possibilities for injury.  Acute knee injuries happen suddenly and are extremely painful.  Chronic knee injuries are those that have developed and continued over time.  An acute injury might become chronic if not treated.  A chronic injury might be considered acute during a flare up or period of extreme pain.

Knee injuries in athletes may be caused by acute, traumatic injuries like a sudden fall.  Or they may be caused by chronic, repetitive overuse injuries.  Sometimes both factors play a role in the injury.  Chronic injuries may become acute because of a traumatic occurrence.

Some common knee injuries that may occur during participation in sports include:

  • ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injuriesThe twisting or pivoting motion that accompanies landing from a jump, slowing down when running, and rapidly changing directions may cause an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.  Football players and other athletes who wear cleats as well as basketball players and skiers are candidates for ACL injuries.  An ACL injury increases the chances of repeat injuries.  Surgery is a very likely treatment.
  • MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament)  injuriesA direct blow to the outside of the knee may cause an injury to the medial collateral ligament, or MCL.  Contact sports such as soccer and football are where athletes may see such injuries.  An MCL sprain often occurs when an athlete’s knee is forced inward by a hit on the outside of the knee.  In most cases, surgery is not necessary.
  • PCL (posterior cruciate ligament)  injuriesSimple missteps on a playing field or a blow to the front of the knee may cause an injury to the posterior cruciate ligament.  A PCL injury happens when the knee is impacted or twisted in such a way that it is bent the wrong way.
  • Cartilage Meniscus injuriesForceful injuries when direct contact occurs while cutting, pivoting, decelerating, or being tackled may cause a cartilage meniscus injury.  Meniscal tears sometimes occur when there is a ligament tear.  Surgery is usually necessary for a torn meniscus.
  • Kneecap/Patella painRunners knee, or patella pain syndrome or Iliotibial band syndrome, and jumpers knee, or patella tendonitis, are common kneecap conditions.  Runners knee occurs behind the kneecap where the kneecap tracks wrongly against the bone underneath causing kneecap pain or on the outside of the knee as the long tendon rubs over the bone on the outside of the knee.  Jumpers knee occurs below the kneecap.  Young female athletes may develop chondramelacia patella, a cause of pain under the kneecap.   Runners are candidates for these overuse injuries.  They develop over time and could be due to over training, improper running shoes, or poor foot biomechanics (how the structures of the foot work together to perform assorted functions).Young athletes are susceptible to experiencing dislocations or partial dislocations of the kneecap.  The athlete may feel something popping out of and then back in the joint.  Occasionally, the kneecap can be seen toward the outside of the knee.  In any case, the kneecap needs to be correctly repositioned as soon as possible.
  • Back of knee painOccasionally, a knee injury will cause the knee to produce too much fluid.  A Bakers Cyst develops and causes swelling behind the knee.  Relief for the uncomfortable nature of the cyst comes with successful treatment of the original knee injury.

When to Seek Medical Care

Pain and swelling in the knee may be indications of a mild knee joint injury.  If the pain or swelling persists, however, it is wise to make an appointment with one of our JOI Beaches orthopaedic doctors.  More immediate treatment is likely to be in order if a popping noise occurred or the knee gave out at the time of injury, if there is a visible deformity of the knee, if there is an inability to put weight on the leg, or if the knee cannot be moved.


The surgeons at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches employ various methods to treat the knee injuries of athletes.  For specific knee injuries, surgery may be required.  JOI Beaches surgeons will evaluate your condition and discuss treatment options with you before deciding on a treatment plan.

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