Knee injuries are one of the most common areas that Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance experts care for every day. Over 4 million people in the U.S. alone visit a doctor for knee pain each year, and pain can occur to people of every age and through a variety of causes. Injuries to your knees can have a significant impact on all aspects of your life. A knee injury can not only cause pain but also decrease your mobility and function.
Simple tasks—like getting out of bed, standing, and walking— may become extremely challenging with a knee injury. Injuries to your knees can also prevent you from participating in many of your favorite physical or social activities, which can impact your mental health and wellbeing as well.
If you have a knee injury, the most important decisions you can make are when and where to receive care. Knee injuries can significantly worsen over time without treatment—so choosing the right doctor is crucial. With extensive expertise in treating knee injuries, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance offers the most advanced diagnosis and treatment methods in the area.
If you’re searching for a knee doctor in Kansas City, KCOA providers can create a customized treatment plan to alleviate symptoms and heal injuries—all centered on your individual needs and goals. Read on to learn more about knee injuries, treatment options, or request an appointment with one of our highly trained knee specialists!
Your Knee’s Anatomy
The knee is the largest joint in your entire body, and also one of its most complex structures. It’s a hinge joint that connects your upper and lower leg bones. The knee joint allows for flexing (bending) and extending (straightening) and some slight side-to-side and rotational movements as well.
The knee’s structural components include: bones, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and other soft tissues. Collectively, these allow the knee to function for a wide variety of purposes. The knee joint contains three bones: the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and the patella (kneecap). The femur and the tibia connect to the top and bottom of the knee, respectively, while the patella protects the front of the knee joint.
The meniscus acts as a cushion between the tibia and the femur—allowing for full range of motion without the two bones rubbing against one another. You also have four separate ligaments that help provide stability to the joint and connect your femur and tibia together. Those four ligaments include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
Also crucial to your joint stability are your knee’s tendons. While both ligaments and tendons are made of connective tissue, tendons differ by supporting joint movement and connecting muscles to bone—rather than connecting bones to other bones, like ligaments. There are also additional structures like bursae, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels that all work in unison to keep your knee healthy and functioning.
How Common are Knee Injuries?
While your knee is the largest joint in your body, it’s also one of the most vulnerable. Its susceptibility to injury is why hundreds of patients across the area seek treatment from a knee doctor in Kansas City each year. In fact, knee pain affects 25% of adults across the country and accounts for millions of providers visits yearly.
Why are your knees so vulnerable to injury? For most people, it’s a two-part answer involving the structure of the joint and the overall stress we place on it during our lives.
Structure & Stress
Because the knee is a hinge joint, there’s less bony support offered than say your hip joint, which is a ball and socket type of joint. Hinge joints primarily rely on soft tissue to provide stability, leaving it less protected than other areas.
Your knee also supports a significant amount of body weight as a hinge joint between the two largest bones in your body. Regular movements like standing and walking put varying levels of stress on the joint, which can cause wear and tear over time. This stress only increases with more sudden forces like running or jumping, or when you lift and carry heavy objects.
When you bend and straighten your knee, there is a small amount of rotation that occurs at the joint—which allows the movement to occur smoothly. The joint itself isn’t built to handle a significant amount of rotation. The knee’s primary functions are to bend and straighten, which it can do up to 150 degrees in some people (the equivalent of touching your calf to your hamstring).
Because the knee joint’s primary movement is bending and straightening, significant forces applied in rotation often lead to injuries. Twisting the knee while you have weight through the joint is a common mechanism of injury.
Types of Knee Injuries
KCOA providers who specialize in the knee see a variety of patients for unique knee injuries. Like other joint ailments throughout your body, knee injuries can fall into two different categories: acute and chronic.
Acute Knee Injuries
Acute injuries occur as a result of sudden, high velocity or high impact trauma to the area. These can occur either through a direct blow to the knee or from a sudden, non-contact movement. Examples of a direct blow can include falling on your knee or bumping it into another object. Sudden movement injuries may stem from a twist or hyperextension of the joint due to an awkward landing or quick change of direction.
Acute injuries will usually result in immediate pain— as well as possible inflammation, swelling, or even loss of your range of motion in severe cases. With acute knee injuries, it’s important to see a knee doctor in Kansas City as soon as possible to prevent the injury from worsening.
Some common acute knee injuries can include:
- Sprains, strains, & tendon injuries
- ACL tears
- MCL tears, PCL tears, and other ligament tears
- Meniscus tears
- Joint & kneecap dislocations
Chronic Knee Injuries
A chronic knee injury implies that there has been a problem present in the joint for a period of time that may be worsening. Chronic knee injuries can stem from a previous acute injury, or can happen simply through forces stressing the joint over time.
Chronic injuries may be slightly more difficult to diagnose than an acute injury, because there may not be a singular incident that you can trace the pain or dysfunction back to. Underlying joint disease, overuse, poor joint mechanics, poor postures and your unique genetic makeup can all become causes of chronic knee pain.
Additional chronic knee injuries include:
Who’s Most at Risk for a Knee Injury?
The truth is that no one is immune to suffering a knee injury. Millions of people across the country visit a doctor due to knee pain every year—with a significant portion stemming from a major increase in youth knee injuries.
There’s no one single reason for a rise in knee injuries, but there are certain risk factors that affect some groups of people at a significantly higher rate—leading them to seek treatment from a knee doctor in Kansas City.
Athletes/Highly Active Individuals
Many sports have a high number of sudden, explosive movements that can lead to devastating injuries. Planting your foot wrong, landing awkwardly on a jump, or a direct hit to the knee, are all relatively common.
Consistent high force stress or high intensity movements—like long-distance running or Olympic weight training—can contribute to chronic knee injuries as well.
*PREVENTION TIPS: Be sure to warm up and stretch your joints before all physical activity, take time to rest and recover to avoid overtraining, work on flexibility exercises, and consider utilizing sports medicine for preventative care purposes.
Overweight or Obese Individuals
People at unhealthy weights increase the joint stress at the knee. This puts these individuals at a dramatically higher risk of developing chronic knee conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Your knee doctor in Kansas City can offer recommendations to reduce the risk of these complications through specific lifestyle changes.
*PREVENTION TIPS: Take small steps to build healthy lifestyle habits. Drink more water, gradually reduce calorie intake, swap out certain food for healthier options, and talk to your provider about a physical therapy or physical fitness program.
A normal aspect of aging is that our knee joints start to wear down over time— even if we’ve done what we can to maintain a healthy weight and avoid excessive stress on our knees.
Osteoarthritis is the most common knee condition associated with aging, caused by deteriorating cartilage leading to direct contact with the tibia and femur. You may not be able to stop knee pain altogether, but you decrease the risk as you age by knowing your risk factors (family history, weight, contributing medical issues, etc.) and making lifestyle changes where appropriate.
*PREVENTION TIPS: Find an ideal weight for your body and work to maintain it, focus on building strength in your lower body, and try to find low-impact exercise options (such as swimming).
Treatments for Knee Injuries
As debilitating knee injuries can be, the good news is that patients can relieve pain and heal their injuries with effective orthopedic care. Visiting an experienced and highly trained knee doctor in Kansas City at KCOA is the first step towards recovery.
With advanced diagnostic imaging and treatment capabilities, we can accurately find the root cause of your pain and provide a care recommendation. The treatment you receive will ultimately depend on factors such as the cause of the injury, the severity, and your individual goals
Our provider’s philosophy when treating all injuries—including those to the knee—is to exhaust all conservative measures first, before recommending a more invasive treatment like surgery. Ultimately, patients will make a collaborative decision on treatment with their providers and loved ones to ensure an optimal outcome.
Our knee treatments at KCOA include all of the following:
- Knee Arthroscopy
- Knee Replacement
- ACL Reconstruction
- Meniscus Repair/Meniscus Injury Management
- Cartilage Restoration/Repair (MACI)
- Alignment/Deformity Correction Procedure
- Physical Therapy
- Sports medicine treatments
- Physical medicine & rehabilitation
- And orthobiologic treatments
Searching for a Knee Doctor in Kansas City? Contact KCOA Today!
At Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance, we make it our mission to create a superior patient experience for all. Regardless of the location or severity of your injury, our team will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
Request an appointment with one of our providers to find the best treatment option for your needs. You can also receive a thorough evaluation by calling (913) 319-7600 or by using our symptom tracker tool. If you have any additional questions or comments, feel free to fill out our contact form to get a prompt response from a KCOA representative.