Injuries to the knee are very common, from fracture to soft tissue injuries. The normal knee needs all aspects of the knee to be functioning properly for the knee to function optimally. Commonly during sports or even everyday life we can damage some of the components of the knee.
Important structures within the knee that are commonly injured are the menisci, cruciate ligaments or collateral ligaments.
These are two ‘C’ shaped shock absorbers within the knee. They function to increase the surface area of contact within the knee. The can often become pinched and torn. Symptoms of this may be pain on pivoting or in certain positions. A classic finding of a ‘bucket handle tear’ is when the edge of the torn meniscus gets caught in the joint and the knee ‘locks’. The meniscus can be repaired in some situations or debrided (trimmed back)
Meniscal tears: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00358
There are two cruciate ligaments the anterior (front) and posterior (back). These ligaments contribute to the stability of the knee and stop the tibia (shin bone) from sliding forward or backwards on the femur (thigh bone). Symptoms of a ruptured cruciate ligament, is a feeling of instability in the knee. The knee either gives way, or feels like it will give way particularly if rapidly changing direction (side step). The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is a common operation where a tendon is used to replace the torn ligament. This can be done either openly or arthroscopically.
These are further ligaments that are found on the sides of the knee, that stop the knee from bending sideways. The medial (inner) collateral and the lateral (outer) collateral. These can be injured at the same time as a cruciate and or meniscus, or independently. Often the lateral collateral (LCL) will heal with brace, but a medial collateral may need reconstruction.
Collateral ligament tear: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00550
Knee surgery can often be done arthroscopically, which means that it is performed through small stab incisions in the skin and small telescopes are used. This leads to less disturbance of the normal anatomy and quicker healing.
Knee Arthroscopy: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00299