Knee injuries St. Louis, MO. The knee is a versatile joint that allows our bodies to perform a wide range of functional activities such as sitting, standing, lifting, walking, running, jumping and more. Suffering a knee injury makes walking and many other daily activities painful or even impossible. If you’ve recently had a knee injury or are impacted by chronic knee pain, it is important to find quality physical therapy with licensed physical therapists in the St. Louis area. At Axes Physical Therapy, we provide safe and effective treatment to hundreds of patients in the St. Louis area. Contact us today to find out more or schedule your first appointment.
Axes Physical Therapy provides individually tailored, evidence-based evaluation and treatment for those with knee injuries in St. Louis. Our knee injury experts specialize in personalized treatment plans designed specifically for your condition, needs and movement goals. As a network of physical therapy facilities locally owned and operated by St. Louis physical therapists, Axes Physical Therapy is committed to serving the individual needs of each St. Louis patient we see.
The Human Knee
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It connects the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone). The fibula (the small bone that runs adjacent to the tibia) and patella (kneecap) are the other bones that make up the knee joint. Surrounding the knee are leg muscles, which help move the knee, and tendons and ligaments that connect the knee bones to the leg muscles or ligaments which provide support and stability. These ligaments include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which provide stability to the front and back of the knee, and the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL), which stabilize side-to-side movement. The medial and lateral menisci act as shock absorbers between the tibia and femur.
Due to the complexity of the joint and the stresses placed on the knee, with structures that can be torn, fractured, sprained, or dislocated, knee injuries are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries that are suffered. If you’ve experienced a knee injury or are dealing with chronic knee pain, you need the care and careful treatment of St. Louis area physical therapists. Our team of qualified therapists who specialize in treating knee injuries will guide you in your recovery and restore full mobility of your injured knee.
Types of Knee Injuries and Common Causes
Knee sprains can be painful knee injuries that occur when ligaments in the knee are torn or overstretched. Knee sprains are painful, and if untreated or treated improperly can lead to continued problems, including arthritis. Knee sprains are commonly caused by acute twisting injuries, or injuries caused by external forces that stretch or tear a ligament.. It is usually a sports related injury that comes from force, such as a blow to the front or outside of the knee. Additionally, non contact knee sprains are very common and result from weakness, muscle fatigue or poor mechanics. Symptoms include:
- Weakness or tenderness
- Pain and stiffness
- Muscle Spasms
Torn cartilage can often occur in tandem with sprains, and occur when trauma to the knee tears the menisci. It’s usually caused by forcefully twisting or rotating your knee and is common in contact sports such as football, as well as sports like soccer or baseball with continued jumping and rotating/pivoting. In older adults, a cartilage tear in the knee can occur with little or no trauma as the knee cartilage loses flexibility and pliability with age. Symptoms include:
- Dull pain when working out or exercising
- Buckling or locking of the knee joint
- Crunching or popping noises when walking
- Difficulty bearing weight
- Inability to flex or extend the knee
Patellar Tendonitis, also known as “jumper’s knee,” is a result of inflammation of the tendons on the knee, specifically the quadriceps tendon. Anterior knee pain is usually the main symptom of this type of knee injury, and at first it may only occur when working out or exercising. It is also commonly an overuse injury. Over time, the pain becomes worse and starts to make exercising or playing sports more difficult. If untreated, eventually you could have difficulty climbing stairs or even rising from a chair. That’s why it’s important to receive physical therapy for knee injuries.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a knee injury marked by pain that is generally felt in the front of the knee and worsens as time goes on. The pain is a result of tracking and alignment problems between the patella and femur and is often experienced climbing stairs or getting up from a chair. The exact cause is still unknown; however, most physicians and physical and occupational therapists suspect these knee injuries occur because of general overuse and weakness of the quadriceps muscle and inflexibility of other hip and knee musculature.
Fractures are an incredibly painful category of knee injuries and require emergency medical attention. More complicated fractures can require surgery to repair the knee and return functionality. There are three common knee injuries related to fractures:
- Patellar: a fracture of the kneecap that often occurs when you fall directly on your knee, hit the dashboard in a car accident or experience another type of heavy blow to the knee. Symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, and bruising
- Inability to extend the knee or keep it straight
- Inability to walk
- Distal Femur: occurs where the thigh bone and knee meet. The bone may shatter or can break straight across. Because distal femoral knee injuries can damage the cartilage in the knee, they can sometimes be more difficult to treat. They usually occur in the elderly whose bones have become weaker, or to people in high energy impact collisions. Symptoms include:
- Pain when putting weight on the knee
- Swelling, bruising, and tenderness
- The leg may look shorter and crooked
- Proximal Tibia: often injure the soft tissue of the knee as well. The top of the tibia, where it meets the knee, is softer than the rest of the bone. These knee injuries often occur when the femur is forced by trauma into the soft bone at the top of the tibia. Proximal tibia knee injuries are sometimes minor breaks that occur from excessive activity, but most are the result of trauma from falling, sports injuries or car accidents. Symptoms include:
- Swelling around the knee
- Visually obvious deformity or misalignment
- Numb, pale, or cold feet, as the flow of blood to the foot could be affected
Dislocation of the knee or kneecap can either occur when the femur and tibia are forced out of alignment, or when the patella is forced out of place. These are most often caused by high energy trauma from sports, car accidents or falls. People with a slightly abnormal structure of the knee are at a higher risk of patellar dislocation knee injuries. While a St. Louis doctor will be able to put the knee or kneecap back in place, treatment by a physical therapist will be an important part of the recovery process to reduce swelling, gradually improve motion and improve strength in the hip and leg musculature.
ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL Injuries can be either tears or sprains. ACL injuries can often happen in high-action sports where players are landing after jumping or changing direction quickly. The PCL can often be torn when force is applied to the front of the knee as it is bent. Symptoms of these knee injuries include swelling and knee instability. While ACL tears are often accompanied by damage to other parts of the knee, by themselves they are not always painful. MCL and LCL tears occur when there is blunt force that pushes the knee sideways.
Diagnoses and Tests
It is important to receive the proper immediate and long-term care after experiencing a knee injury. The care you receive can be the difference between a swift and strong recovery or a lifetime of chronic, debilitating pain. In the event of knee injuries involving obvious and major trauma, such as a dislocated patella, tests may not be needed and a St. Louis ER doctor will work to stabilize the knee as quickly as possible. Other means of diagnosis for knee injuries are:
- A physical examination. A medical professional can evaluate the appearance and mobility of your knee while checking for swelling or tenderness. Our physical therapists are experts in human motion and provide free, no obligation injury screenings for your knee injuries and other injuries.
- X-Rays can detect bone fractures and degenerative joint disease.
- CT scans combine X-rays from various angles to create cross-sectional images of your knee. They can help detect knee injuries such as subtle fractures.
- Ultrasounds use sound waves to produce images of the soft tissue in your knee. Your doctor may move your knee into different positions to look for specific issues.
- MRIs create 3D images of the inside of your knee. This test is often used to reveal soft tissue injuries, such as ACL tears or patellar tendonitis.
If you are experiencing pain caused by a knee injury, contact Axes Physical Therapy to work with a St. Louis physical therapist who specializes in knee injuries. Your knee injury therapist will evaluate your motion, your mobility, and will also check the strength of your knee and its stability. After diagnosis, your Axes physical therapist in St. Louis County will recommend a personalized treatment plan, which might include follow-up with a St. Louis orthopedic or sports physician.
Treatments and Therapy
Minor knee injuries can be treated using the RICE Method: rest, ice, gentle compression, and elevation. If you feel pain, it’s important to rest and to temporarily cease any activity you think may have led to your injury. Seek medical attention if you hear a popping noise or loss of stability at the time of your injury, experience severe pain or swelling, cannot move the knee, or are unable to bear weight without pain. With some serious knee injuries, such as ACL tears or bone fractures, surgery is required to correct the structure of the knee and return functionality. Physical therapy will then be part of your preoperative and postoperative treatment plan. A St. Louis physical therapist who treats knee injuries will put you on the path to safely restore motion and strength to your knee as your injury heals. Common therapies for knee injuries include (depending on your injury):
- Stretches and strengthening exercises of the entire lower extremity
- Core strengthening
- Ice and heat
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Electrical stimulation
- Proprioceptive exercises
- Functional return to sport/activity exercises
At Axes Physical Therapy, our treatment plans are based on proven treatment strategies and tailored specifically for each patient. We guide you in your recovery to safely return you to the activities you love.
Receive Physical Therapy for Knee Injuries
If you are living with knee pain or have recently experienced a knee injury, you need the expert advice of physical therapists to eliminate your pain and return you to full mobility. Axes Physical Therapy will help you get back to the sports and activities you love with the dedicated, individualized care of your Axes physical therapist. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or discover the knee injury treatment location nearest you.