Damage to the knee

Damage to the knee

The knee joint is the most extensive and complicated human body. It consists of three bones and connects the upper and lower leg. The joint is formed by the lower end of the femur, the upper end of the tibia and the kneecap. The surfaces that face each other in the knee are covered with cartilage tissue. Four stable ligaments hold the knee in place: the two cruciate ligaments within the joint and two side ligaments on the edge. The two crescent-shaped meniscuses, the inner and outer meniscus, act as shock absorbers in the joint.

The knee: a stable joint

The knee is highly stable and can briefly carry a load of up to one and a half tons. However, it is the most commonly injured joint in athletes. Avoiding risky sports is still not safe from knee problems. They appear at almost any age.

Obesity, congenital or acquired postural defects and untreated injuries contribute to knee joint damage – in addition to the natural ageing process. The knee has a good memory, but minor injuries in the joint can lead to severe joint damage in the medium to long term if they are not treated at all or not appropriately treated. Early detection is, therefore, critical.


If you have knee problems, see your doctor early.

In principle, it is better to see a specialist once too often than too seldom if you have knee problems. A harmless cartilage damage can become a cause for an artificial knee joint within a few years. Depending on the clinical picture, the doctor will resort to well-founded diagnostics, consisting of anamnesis, function tests, X-rays, CT (computed tomography) and MRT (magnetic field tomography).

He uses a joint reflection (arthroscopy) for diagnosis in complex cases. This has the advantage that any damage can be dealt with immediately. During arthroscopy, a camera and miniature instruments are used in the knee through two incisions of about five millimetres each. In principle, knee reflections can now be performed outpatient under general or local anaesthesia.

Gentle handling

New surgical techniques and the constantly advancing development in biomedicine to treat cartilage damage are causing a rethink – away from quick joint surgery. The earlier knee damage is recognized and treated, the more opportunities there are to preserve the patient’s joint. In addition, the knee should, of course, be treated as gently as possible:

  • Exercise regularly (e.g. walking, cycling)
  • Avoid being overweight
  • Do not carry heavy loads (more than ten kilograms).
  • I prefer shoes with flat heels and soft soles
  • Avoid sharp knee bends (more than 30 degrees) or prolonged squatting
  • If possible, do not practice sports that are unfriendly to your knees.


meniscus injury

Symptoms: knee pain that worsens when bending or twisting, swelling or bruising. The movement of the knee is restricted. Only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.

Therapy: Tears in the meniscus can usually be operated on. Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient will need crutches and physiotherapy for around two weeks. After a minor injury, he can do sports again after four weeks. In the case of severe injuries, the knee can only bear total weight again after six months. Left untreated, a meniscus injury can lead to osteoarthritis.

kneecap dislocation

Symptoms: When the kneecap is dislocated, mobility is significantly restricted. The pain is severe, and the misalignment is visible.

Therapy: In most cases, a specialist can put the kneecap back in place with a flick of the wrist. Nevertheless, a doctor must examine whether there are consequential damages. If this is not the case, you can do sports as before. If the kneecap pops out more often, you can strengthen the muscles or surgically change the kneecap ligaments. After successful therapy, sport is possible without restrictions.

cruciate ligament tear

Symptoms: Sudden pain, sometimes the ligament tears audibly. The leg bends to the side, and the affected person is unsteady when walking. There is swelling and bruising. The way to the doctor is unavoidable in a cruciate ligament tear.

Therapy: The treatment depends on the patient’s exact diagnosis, age and athletic ability. The tear is operated on in muscular patients before a long rehabilitation program begins. With intensive rehabilitation, the patient is fully fit for sports again after six to nine months. Without an operation, however, the knee movement is often permanently restricted, and intensive sports activities are only possible to a limited extent, depending on the extent of the injury.


Cartilage damage/osteoarthritis

Symptoms: As a rule, this process runs slowly over many years without severe pain occurring. In the advanced stage of osteoarthritis, the knee swells and hurts. The doctor makes the diagnosis.

Therapy: In conservative treatment, pain and inflammation are treated, weight must also be reduced, and movement behaviour must be changed! The surgical treatment ranges from simple joint reflection and cartilage transplants to using an artificial knee joint. If there is damage to the cartilage, gentle sports such as swimming or cycling are recommended.

patellar tip syndrome

Symptoms: Pain in the area of ​​the knee shard ( patella ), which often occurs during a growth spurt in puberty. Girls are often affected by patellar tendon syndrome. Injuries can also trigger symptoms.

Therapy: It takes place through rest, physiotherapeutic measures, and, more rarely, light painkillers. Symptoms generally resolve spontaneously within weeks to months. Special knee bandages often help with longer-lasting complaints. Surgical treatment may be necessary if the kneecap is misaligned.

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