What causes knee pain?

Knee pain occurs for many reasons. An athletic injury to the knee joint can result in acute pain, inflammation, reduced mobility and premature arthritis. The most common types of knee injuries include:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear: damage to the fibrous tissue running diagonally through your knee that serves in the main restraint in keeping the shin bone in place, preventing your knee from overextending and providing side-to-side support
  • Meniscus tear: twisting and/or awkward knee flexion that causes damage to the fibro-cartilage pad that sits between the thigh bone and shin bone
  • Kneecap dislocation: when a sudden change in direction puts your kneecap under stress or slips it to the outside of the knee
  • Knee sprain: stretching or tearing of one or more of the knee ligaments
  • Lateral collateral ligament injuries: partial (sprain) or full tear of the thin ligament that runs on the outside of the knee and keeps the joint stable
  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome (front of the knee pain, sometimes referred to as runner's knee): excessive shifting of the patella from activities that involve knee bending
  • Patellar tendonitis (sometimes referred to as jumper's knee or knee tendonitis): inflammation or tearing of the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin
  • MCL sprain: the most often sprained ligament in the knee, the medial collateral ligament, occurs when the knee is forced inward with a stress or impact to the outer side of the knee
  • Posterior-lateral corner injury: trauma to the knee, a posterior lateral force directed to the inside of the knee, knee hyperextension or excessive knee rotation that damages the static and dynamic stability of the posterior lateral knee

Ohio State’s team of orthopedic and sports medicine experts includes physical therapists, and surgeons who provide leading-edge treatments, including options not offered elsewhere in central Ohio, to minimize pain and facilitate a faster recovery.

Diagnosis of knee injuries

Life, and sports, puts a lot of wear and tear on your knees.  For runners in particular, it may be difficult to know when to see a doctor for knee pain while running. To tell normal pain from more serious signs of injury, look out for sharp pains inside the knee or along the joint lines.

Your doctor will ask questions about the injury, the history of your knee pain and your symptoms and perform clinical tests to measure joint laxity. He or she may order X-rays or MRI scans to verify the diagnosis if significant swelling is present or the exact structures involved are difficult to identify. Clinical measures, tests and imaging will also be used to rule out or evaluate concurrent injuries. In some cases, the knee injury may be given a specific grade to determine its severity and guide treatment planning.

Nonsurgical treatments for injuries of the knee

Surgical treatments for ACL tears, meniscus tears and other knee conditions

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center recommends exhausting other treatment options before deciding on surgery. Treatment is personalized for each patient, and in some cases surgery can be avoided. But when there is great discomfort or you desire to get back to your sport, and other methods haven’t produced the desired results, surgery can diminish pain and improve function.

Why choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of sports-related knee injuries?

Innovative diagnostics: The diagnostic advancements achieved in our Biomechanics Lab in identifying the movement patterns associated with ACL injury are recognized internationally. This work has led to earlier detection, more effective treatment and even prevention.

Nationally recognized leadership: We host an annual symposium that draws attendees from across the country to present the latest findings on ACL injury.

Leading-edge treatments: We offer a full spectrum of cartilage restoration treatments, including options not offered elsewhere in central Ohio. Our team is also helping define the algorithms used for cartilage restoration nationwide.

Expert care: We offer fellowship-level physician care and physical therapy. Our providers have completed up to two years of intense, specialized experiential training in the field, resulting in extensive proficiency in patient care.

Patient success

Trey's story

Trey is a High School wrestler who tore his LCL, due to his preventative measures and physical health he beat the odds in not needing to have surgery. Here we learn about how physical therapy helped him get back to the mat in record time.

Parker's story

Parker is a high school athlete who plays football and basketball. After several traumatic injuries to his knee and a failed surgery at another hospital, his mom discovered David Flanigan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Here, Parker and his mom tell his story and how MPFL reconstruction and Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy surgery at Ohio State has put Parker back onto the field doing what he loves most: playing football.
Our providers who treat knee sports injuries

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