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Common Sports Knee Injuries

May 17, 2019

An illustration of the leg bones and knee jointWhen a knee injury occurs, it can cause pain and lifelong challenges without treatment.  Knee surgery is sometimes the best option in such situations to help restore the knee's function and movement while also providing relief from pain.

Knee injuries can happen to anyone, but may be one of the most common injuries for athletes. At Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, Drs. Matthew Heinrich and David Dodgin offer surgical and non-surgical treatment for sports knee injuries to patients in the Austin, TX area.

Common Types of Sports Knee Injuries

People who play sports contort and push their bodies in ways that can sometimes lead to knee injuries. Simply landing wrong or twisting the knee too quickly can cause a painful knee injury. Other times, getting hit in the knee, whether by sports equipment or another athlete, can lead to a serious knee injury.

While there are many different types of ways the knee may become injured while playing sports, the following are just a few of the most common.


Fractures are a common sports-related knee injury for athletes that can happen from falling on the knee or taking a blow to the knee, whether from sports equipment or being hit by another athlete.

Fractures may occur in any bone in or around the knee, but the patella, or kneecap, is generally the most common bone to break within the knee joint.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is located along the front of the knee and helps provide stability to the joint. Injuries to the ACL are common among those who play contact sports, like football, or sports that require a quick change of motion, like soccer or lacrosse.

ACL injuries are graded by severity on a scale of one to three. A mild ACL injury is considered a grade 1 sprain and a complete tear of the ACL is considered a grade 3. Severe ACL injuries often require surgical repair.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The posterior cruciate ligament runs along the back of the knee and helps connects the femur to the tibia and helps keep the tibia from bending too far back.

Posterior cruciate ligament injuries typically occur when the knee is bent. When playing sports, falling hard on a bent knee or being tackled when the knees are bent can cause injury to the posterior cruciate ligament.

Meniscus Tears

The meniscus is the cartilage that sits between the thighbone and shinbone, cushioning the two bones from one another and acting as a sort of shock absorber.

The meniscus can tear if the knee is suddenly twisted while bearing weight, a movement common when playing sports.

Some people hear or feel a pop in the knee with a meniscus tear and typically experience pain and swelling shortly after the injury. Sometimes pain and swelling will become worse within the days following the injury.

Knee Dislocation

Another common sports-related knee injury that athletes in Austin may experience is a dislocation. A dislocated knee describes when the bones that make up the knee are forced out of proper alignment and their proper location.

The knee may become dislocated while playing sports for a number of reasons, for example, falling on the knee, being hit in the knee with a ball or other equipment, or being hit by or running into another player.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the pelvis to the knee. Sometimes this ligament becomes tight and rubs against the thighbone, leading to a painful condition called iliotibial band syndrome.

Iliotibial band syndrome most commonly affects long-distance runners. In the early stages of ilioband syndrome, pain may only be minor. As symptoms progress, pain often worsens, especially with activity.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have suffered from a knee injury, treatment from the Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin may be right for you. To learn more about treatment options, please call (512) 476-2830 to schedule a consultation.