Q&A Topic: Sports-Related Knee Injuries

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Victor Khabie, MD, FAAOS, FACS

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Q. What are the most common sports-related knee injuries?

A. There are three:

• An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a key ligament stabilizing the knee, either tears the ACL in two or rips it from the femur (thighbone).
• Damage to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), which keeps the tibia (shinbone) in place, usually consists of a partial tear.
• Made of cartilage, the meniscus is the knee’s “shock absorber,” and a tear causes pain and dysfunction.

Q. As an athlete, when should I seek seek medical attention for a knee injury?

A. If, after two or three days, your knee is swollen; you are limping; you can’t put your full weight on the leg; or you are in pain, head to the ER for an X-ray to determine if there’s a break or fracture. Whatever the outcome, you should see an orthopedic specialist without delay. Knee injuries often require surgical repair, and left untreated, can have long-term consequences.At Northern Westchester Hospital, we treat the full range of sports-related knee injuries with the most advanced surgical procedures and rehabilitative physical therapies. The three injuries mentioned here require different treatment, and we are deeply experienced in each.An injured ACL must be surgically replaced with a new ligament taken from the patient’s own body. An MCL injury normally heals with physical therapy, while a meniscus tear requires surgical repair.

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Q. Is it possible for me to prevent sports-related knee injuries?

A. Female athletes are much more likely to suffer an ACL injury. The good news is that a specific 20-minute warm-up called a neuromuscular injury-prevention and performance enhancement program can dramatically reduce ACL injuries among female athletes. Inquire at your local gym for personal trainers who have been trained in this protective conditioning program, and can offer it outside of normal practice. Male athletes can also improve stability from the warm-up.Parents also need to monitor the number and type of sports a young athlete is involved in. It’s important to offset activities that stress the knee with others that offer respite. Be aware: playing sports year-round with no break can stress the knee to the point of injury.

Northern Westchester Hospital
Chief, Department of Surgery
Chief of Surgical Services
Co-Director, Orthopedic and Spine Institute
Director, Sports Medicine

Learn More About Dr. Khabie

More from Dr. Khabie: Robot-Assisted Partial Knee Replacement

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