Sports Injuries Affecting the Knee

As our body’s largest joint, our knees are very complex and susceptible to different types of injuries. 

Athletes in particular are at risk of knee issues. The knee injury might be the result of chronic, repetitive use or an acute, traumatic injury like a fall.

ACL

One of the most common knee injuries in Colorado is the dreaded ACL tear of the knee. ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. A forceful pivot of the knee, common while skiing, or an injury in contact sports, usually causes this damage. Our physicians reconstruct the ACL arthroscopically, using a small camera or a scope inserted in a small incision in the knee, and a graft to replace the tendon. The most common grafts include using a part of your own body, like the patellar tendon (tendon of the kneecap) or one of the hamstring tendons. Another option is allograft tissue, which comes from a deceased donor.

Other knee ligaments may be injured as well, requiring repair or reconstruction. This surgery is often done on an outpatient basis, which means you will not need to stay overnight in the hospital. The goal of ACL surgery is to restore normal or nearly normal stability of the knee (compared to what you had before your injury). Our goal is that our patients can return to the active, healthy lifestyle they're passionate about.

Meniscus Surgery

The meniscus is the C-shaped discs of cartilage that act as shock absorbers between the thighbone and the shinbone. Athletes who play contact sports are prone to these tears, but the meniscus can also tear due to degeneration as one ages and the tissue around the knee wears down. Depending on the severity of the injury, your orthopedic surgeon might recommend arthroscopic surgery where the tear can be repaired or trimmed in a either a partial meniscectomy or total meniscectomy depending on the level of damage.

Cartilage Restoration Surgery

Cartilage is the smooth coating covering the bone in a moving joint. Unfortunately, our bodies are not well equipped to heal damaged cartilage or make new cartilage. For isolated cartilage defects caused by sports injuries, cartilage transplant surgery might be an option. Our orthopedic surgeons perform several state-of-the-art techniques, including Osteochondral Autograft or Allograft Transfer System (OATS) wherein a surgeon transfers a small area of cartilage and bone from a healthy area of the patient’s knee to the damaged area. Donated tissue may be used for larger areas. This technique is best for younger active people (up to age 50) with small areas of damage. 

Kneecap (Patella) Instability and Dislocation Surgery

Unfortunately some athletes are prone to instability or dislocation of the kneecap. Each time this happens is causes severe pain and cartilage damage. If physical therapy doesn’t help control this problem, our orthopedic surgeons offer several surgical options to treat this difficult issue, including medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction, where the torn/stretched out ligament is replaced.

More about Knee Care