You’re planting your leg to make a quick turn and- pop! You hear a popping sound from your knee. This is an all too familiar of a situation for many people. There are three common injuries that cause a pop in the knee. These are an ACL tear, a meniscal tear, and a patella dislocation. Most often, for all of these knee injuries, you will experience pain and swelling. Here’s an overview of these three knee injuries.
The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) stabilizes the knee. Planting and twistin, like while playing soccer or football, can cause an ACL tear. Running and coming to a sudden stop can also tear the ACL. Regardless of the cause, with an ACL tear, a knee pop and swelling will occur. There’s a significant amount of pain right when the tear occurs as well. In sporting contexts, players with an ACL tear are unable to continue competing due to the severity of the injury. With the proper initial treatment of resting, icing, and compressing, the pain can resolve in a matter of days.
Doctors diagnose an ACL tear with a physical examination. They check your injured knee for swelling and pain, comparing it to your healthy knee. They may also move your knee in a few positions to assess its range of motion. Doctors may also utilize diagnostic imaging like a MRI scan to assess the degree of tissue damage and the severity of the tear. In many cases, particularly for people with very active lifestyles, surgery is necessary to repair the ACL. During surgery, doctors reconstruct the torn ligament You will also need to pursue knee rehabilitation for a period of time to restore function and stability.
Another common knee injury is a meniscal tear. Meniscal tears often occur due to trauma like aggressive pivoting in younger patients. In contrast, older patients can tear their meniscus with minimal force from day-to-day movement. In both cases, the tear causes a sharp pain along the joint line. This pain occurs with activity. A meniscal tear needs to be treated properly- the meniscus functions as a shock absorber in the knee.
Doctors diagnose meniscal tears with a physical examination in which they move your knee in different positions to pinpoint the injury. They often use an MRI to visualize the injury as well. Meniscal tears, like ACL tears, should be treated with rest, ice, and compression initially. Longer-term, treatment includes physical therapy to improve motion and stability, and may also include surgery. In surgery, doctors can repair the tear with a low-risk outpatient procedure. Recovery from this surgery is quick.
One final common knee injury that causes popping is a patella dislocation. The patella, also known as the knee cap, can dislocate when you plant and twist your let. Patella dislocations occur most commonly in younger females. People may feels something slip out of the joint if they experience a dislocation. Fortunately, most of the time, the dislocated knee cap spontaneously relocates on its own. However, on occasion it doesn’t. If this is the case, an ER physician will have to relocate the patella. Relocation is perform under a twilight type anesthetic.
Treatment for this injury involves a patella stabilization brace. Physical therapy is also needed to strength the muscles around the knee cap. Typically, people are able to resume full activity within eight weeks of the initial injury. If the patella dislocates again, you may need surgery. During surgery, doctors can reconstruct the medial patellofemoral ligament, the ligament that stabilizes the patella.
If you have experienced any knee injuries, you can trust the professionals at Orthopaedic Specialists to help you recover. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grossfeld and the experts at Orthopaedic Specialists, call 502-212-2663 today.