Knee Injuries Commonly Seen in Athletes

The knee is a fairly complicated joint, and has several parts within its structure. The knee moves as if it were a hinge on a door, permitting someone to bend, straighten, and stoop their legs. For athletes, the knee is crucial in being able to run, squat, jump, and perform other related movements. The knee consists of four main components, including cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones. During a sports activity, there are many ways that these parts can get injured if the wrong sudden movement or fall occurs:

Knee Fracture

The most common knee joint that gets broken is the kneecap or patella. High-impact trauma can quickly lead to a fracture, especially if the person was playing sports and had stepped the wrong way or tripped under their own feet. A knee pain doctor in Frederick, MD, such as from the Pain & Spine Specialist of Maryland, LLC, may recommend that the athlete uses a splint or cast to keep the knee straight, preventing motion so healing can occur. Symptoms of a knee fracture can include swelling, pain, and limited mobility. 

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

Perhaps the most common injury for high-contact sports is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. This ligament is located in front of the knee, and runs down the front side to provide stability to the joint. For severe ACL injuries, surgery may be required. A knee doctor can evaluate an athlete to determine whether they have a Grade 1, 2, or 3 injury. Grade 1 is usually just a sprain, while grade 3 often refers to when the ligament was completely torn. An athlete can sustain an ACL injury if they jump and land wrong, or change direction too rapidly. 

Knee Dislocation

Contact sports can cause a knee to become dislocated, when the bones of the knee are knocked out of their normal placement. An athlete may notice that their knee area looks deformed, is swollen, or the kneecap is too freely moving. An athlete may also lose feeling below the knee, while having severe pain within the knee itself. It is important to consult with a knee doctor about a dislocation, because when the knee relocates itself, it can become inflamed due to fluid in the knee and cause immense pain when moving. 


Otherwise known as “jumper’s knee”, tendonitis is prevalent among athletes who jump repeatedly during a sports activity. With tendonitis, the tendon that connects from the shinbone to the kneecap becomes injured. This tendon helps a person be able to jump, run, and perform other physically demanding movements with more ease. Symptoms of tendonitis can include tenderness at the kneecap base, swelling, and a burning sensation. Kneeling or getting back up from a squatting position may also be quite painful. 

Iliotibial band Syndrome

The iliotibial band lays on the outside of a knee, and can get injured due to frequent rubbing against the knee joint. This type of knee injury is fairly common with athletes who do long-distance running. Initially, there may be mild discomfort when moving, but then gradually builds to where the athlete is in enough pain to halt running until the band can heal.