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Common Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms

ACL Tears & Other Soft Tissue Knee Injuries

Soft tissue injuries to the knee are extremely common, especially in athletes. The knee is a complex joint, and it is supported by several ligaments and tendons. These structures can be damaged by a sudden impact or by overuse. Common soft tissue injuries to the knee include meniscal tears and ligament injuries.

A meniscal tear is a common knee injury in athletes, especially those involved in contact sports. There are two wedge-shaped cartilage pieces present between the thigh bone and the shinbone, each called a meniscus. The menisci stabilize the knee joint and act as shock absorbers. A sudden bend or twist in your knee causes the meniscus to tear. Elderly people are more prone to degenerative meniscal tears as the cartilage wears out and weakens with age.

Ligament injuries occur when the ligaments that support the joint are stretched or torn. There are many types of ligament injuries, but the most common are:

  • ACL tears - An ACL injury is a sports-related injury that occurs when the knee is forcefully twisted or hyperextended. An ACL tear usually occurs with an abrupt directional change with the foot fixed on the ground or when the deceleration force crosses the knee. Changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, and direct contact or collision, such as a football tackle, can also cause injury to the ACL.
  • MCL tears - The MCL is the ligament that is located on the inner part of the knee joint. It runs from the femur (thighbone) to the top of the tibia (shinbone) and helps in stabilizing the knee. MCL injuries can result in a stretch, partial tear, or complete tear of the ligament. Injuries to the MCL commonly occur because of pressure or stress on the outside section of the knee.
  • PCL tears - PCL injuries are very rare and are more difficult to detect when compared to other knee ligament injuries. Cartilage injuries, bone bruises, and ligament injuries often occur in combination with PCL injuries.

    Injuries to the PCL can be graded as I, II, or III depending on the severity of the injury. In grade I, the ligament is mildly damaged and slightly stretched, but the knee joint is stable. In grade II, there is a partial tear of the ligament. In grade III, there is a complete tear of the ligament and the ligament is divided into two halves, making the joint unstable.

    The PCL is usually injured by a direct impact, such as in an automobile accident when the bent knee forcefully strikes the dashboard. In sports, it can occur when you fall to the ground with a bent knee, as a twisting injury or overextending the knee can cause the PCL to tear.

The knee is a complex joint that is essential in aiding the joint’s movements, so any injury to it can have a significant impact on your mobility and daily life. If you have suffered a soft tissue injury, you must seek treatment immediately from a knee specialist near you. 

At Brian J. Kelly MD, the team of orthopaedic specialists can assist you with any pain or discomfort you are experiencing. Our team will develop a unique treatment plan to help get you back to the sport you love. Schedule your appointment online today to get back in the game.


X-ray view of a woman walking

The Best Knee Pain Treatment Near You

Arthroscopic Treatments for Knee Injuries

Immediately following a knee injury, before being evaluated by an orthopaedic specialist, you can initiate the R.I.C.E. method of treatment, which involves:

  • Rest - Rest the knee, as more damage could result from pressure on the injury.
  • Ice - Ice packs can be applied to the injured area to reduce swelling and pain. Never place ice directly over the skin. Ice should be wrapped in a towel and applied to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day for several days.
  • Compression - Wrapping the knee with an elastic bandage or compression stocking can help minimize the swelling and support your knee.
  • Elevation - Elevating the knee above the heart level will also help reduce swelling and pain.

In any case, it’s important to see an orthopaedic knee doctor if you suspect you’ve injured your knee. You should especially seek your doctor’s advice if you hear a popping noise, feel as if your knee has given way at the time of injury, or if you are unable to move your knee because of severe pain.

Treatment for soft tissue knee injuries depends on the severity and location of the injury, as well as your age and activity level. Non-surgical treatment may be sufficient, however, if the symptoms do not resolve with non-surgical treatment, soft tissue knee surgery may be recommended.

Knee arthroscopy is a commonly recommended surgical procedure for soft tissue injuries like meniscal tears and ligament injuries. During this procedure, your knee orthopaedic surgeon makes two or three small incisions around the knee. Next, a sterile saline solution is injected into the knee to push apart the various internal structures, and provide a clear view and more room for your surgeon to work. 

An arthroscope, a narrow tube with a tiny video camera on the end, is inserted through one of the incisions to view the knee joint. The structures inside the knee are visible to your surgeon on a video monitor in the operating room. Your surgeon will examine the structures inside the knee joint to assess the cause of the problem. 

Once a diagnosis is made, surgical instruments such as scissors, motorized shavers, or lasers are inserted through another small incision, and the repair is performed based on the diagnosis. After the repair, the knee joint is carefully examined for bleeding or any other damage. The saline is then drained from the knee joint. Finally, the incisions are closed with sutures or steri-strips, and the knee is covered with a sterile dressing.

Knee arthroscopy has proven to be successful in repairing a variety of knee problems. Dr. Brian Kelly and his team of orthopaedic surgeons are experienced in performing this surgery to help patients improve their condition. If you are experiencing knee pain, stop into the office of Brian J. Kelly MD for comprehensive knee injury treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes knee injuries?

Knee problems may arise if any of these structures get injured by overuse or suddenly during sports activities. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the common knee injury symptoms. The common causes of knee injury include:

  • Fracture of the femur (thighbone) or tibia and fibula (leg bones).
  • Torn ligaments, such as an anterior or posterior cruciate ligament (ACL or PCL).
  • Rupture of blood vessels following a trauma that leads to the accumulation of extra fluid or blood in the joint.
  • Dislocation of the kneecap (patella).
  • Torn quadriceps or hamstring muscles.
  • Patellar tendon tear.

No matter the cause of your knee pain, you can rest assured that Dr. Brian Kelly can help you find relief.

How long does recovery from knee arthroscopy take?

While recovery after the surgery depends on the type of procedure performed, recovery from simple procedures like knee arthroscopy is much faster than that from an open knee surgery. You are often discharged on the same day of your knee arthroscopy. Following your procedure, pain medicines are prescribed to manage pain, and crutches or a knee brace may be recommended for several weeks. Your specialist may also advise a rehabilitation program for a successful recovery, as therapeutic exercises can restore motion and strengthen the muscles of the leg and knee. Dr. Kelly provides highly specialized care during and after surgery, so you can rest assured that you will have support throughout your recovery.

How can I prevent soft tissue knee injuries?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent a soft tissue knee injury, you can lower your risk by maintaining good muscle strength and flexibility and avoiding high-impact activities. Wearing proper protective gear during sports and other activities can also help reduce your risk. If you are unsure of how to safely participate in physical activity to minimize possible injuries, seek advice from your orthopaedic specialist at Brian J. Kelly MD.

How do I get started with a knee doctor near me?

Don’t let knee pain keep you from doing what you love. The expert team at Brian J. Kelly MD will help you return to your sport safely with treatment plans tailored to your needs and goals. Schedule your appointment today. You can contact us by phone at 412-262-7800, or visit our office at 725 Cherrington Pkwy, Suite 200, Moon Township, PA 15208.

Dr. Brian Kelly - Pittsburgh's Favorite Knee Specialist

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