Whether you twist your knee doing yard work or tweak it shooting hoops with the kids, how do you know if it’s a serious knee injury or just a minor pain?
Signs of a Serious Knee Injury
Severe pain is a clear indicator, but seek help if you experience:
- Swelling or edema within the knee joint: Does your knee joint swell and how quickly? Immediate swelling within the joint indicates a fracture or an ACL tear, both of which require immediate medical assessment. Swelling in the joint that is slower to develop is not evident for 24 hrs, often is the result of a meniscal tear. Most meniscal tears are self-limiting and if the person stays active, usually clear on their own.
- Locking of the knee: A large meniscal tear may cause the knee to lock. Medical assessment is needed to assure that more damage is not done and surgery might repair the tear.
- “Giving way”: If your knee buckles under you when you are walking, then it usually indicates instability. A lot of people have ACL tears, but if their knee has functional stability then surgery is not necessarily encouraged. But, if their knee buckles or “gives way”, then this may be causing damage to the cartilage and surgery is more likely recommended. There is also another cause of the knee, giving-way from general swelling within the knee that causes the quadricep muscles to turn-off. Without the quad muscle functioning, the knee weakens and bends
- Increased temperature: A new or acute injury may cause swelling that is warm to the touch, but this may also be a sign of an infection or arthritic condition would require additional medical care.
- The last sign of a serious knee injury would be persistent or high level of pain. One that has a high level or persistent pain should immediately seek medical advice.