Any of the structures that make up the knee can be injured.
A fracture refers to a broken bone. Any of the three bones that make up the knee can be fractured. When a fracture extends into a joint surface, there is always a risk that the joint will develop arthritis in the future. Fractures can be treated in a variety of ways including the use of metal pins and plates. Your surgeon will discuss appropriate treatment options with you.
|X-rays showing a fracture of the upper tibia treated surgically using a metal plate and screws|
The menisci are injured by being squeezed between the femur and the tibia. The injury occurs when the patient is weight bearing and some rotation of the knee occurs. In younger patients (under the age of 40 years) significant force, such as a football tackle, is needed to sustain a meniscal tear.
Older patients have degenerate menisci and meniscal tears may occur in the over 50 age group without obvious trauma.
The ligaments of the knee are injured when the knee is moved forcibly in an abnormal direction. This may be a side to side motion injuring the collateral ligaments or hyperextension of the knee. Examples of how this may happen is during sports or a road traffic accident. Ligament injuries cause immediate localisedpain and swelling and weight bearing may be difficult. X-rays are normal in ligament injuries. Physical examination shortly after the injury is difficult bacause the knee is very painful. An MRI scan is useful in certain cases to achieve a diagnosis.