Knee problems are an extremely common complaint in doctors' surgeries, orthopaedic clinics and physiotherapy practices. The knee's siting in the middle of the leg and the large forces which occur in running, jumping or normal life all make the knee vulnerable to a number of conditions which cause knee pain and disability.
Knee Ligament Injury
The knee ligaments are large powerful structures which hold the two halves of the knee together and prevent unwanted movements which might strain the joint structures. Sport is the main reason for knee ligament injuries and the most commonly affected are the medial collateral ligament and the anterior cruciate ligament.
Medial collateral injuries are mostly treated conservatively with splinting, rest, painkillers, crutches and physiotherapy. Anterior cruciate rupture does not heal so once the acute period is over the usual management is knee ligament surgery in the form of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
Cartilage injuries are known as meniscal injuries or meniscal tears more technically, and occur in sporting injuries, falls or due to degenerative changes in older people. Arthroscopy is the treatment of choice as this interferes with the person's function to a minimal degree. Knee arthroscopy is usually performed as day case surgery with patients going home walking relatively normally after a few hours and physiotherapy seldom required.
Knee arthritis is a common degenerative condition with osteoarthritis, age related joint change, being the type which occurs most. In severe cases of an arthritic knee then knee replacement surgery is the typical management and is usually very successful.
A comprehensive pages on knee problems is available at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and FamilyDoctor.org has a nice chart to help you self diagnose your knee problem.