The crisp air brushes your cheek and fills your lungs. Your post-holiday body protests as your burning legs pound the merciless pavement. It's exhilarating to be active again!
As we hit the ground running with the new year, our resolutions often involve dusting off the old exercise shoes and getting ourselves back in shape. Unfortunately, for many Americans, an increased burst of renewed activity can result in joint injuries if approached carelessly. Each year, more than 5.5 million Americans visit orthopedic surgeons because they're experiencing knee pain. Below is a list of five of the most common knee injuries, from mild to more severe:
- Runner's Knee: Also known as chrondromalacia, runner's knee is one of the most common knee injuries (especially in athletes and weekend warriors). Symptoms include tenderness in the knee, pain in front of the knee and sometimes a grating sensation in the knee. Treatment usually involves rest and immobilization of the knee.
- ITBS (IT Band Syndrome): Iliotibial band syndrome is a common knee injury with runners, cyclists, hikers or weightlifters. Symptoms of ITBS can include a stinging sensation above the knee joint (on the outside of the knee), to swelling of the tissue where the IT band moves over the femur. Common treatment includes icing, elevation and rest. The use of foam rollers to loosen the IT band is also effective, although painful at times.
- Tendinitis: More common in basketball and volleyball players, patellar tendinitis symptoms can range from pain only after activity (without functional impairment) in its earlier stages, to a complete tendon tear requiring surgical repair. As is the case with runner's knee and ITBS, rest, ice, compression and elevation (the R.I.C.E method) can help treat early stages of tendinitis. If, however, you're experiencing prolonged pain during and after activity, you might want to consider seeing a medical professional.
- ACL Injury: An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is the over-stretching or tearing of that particular ligament in the knee. Basketball, football, soccer and skiing are common sports that result in ACL injuries. Symptoms may include a popping noise, followed by swelling of the knee and severe pain when trying to put weight on the injured knee. In many cases, physical therapy or surgery may be needed to repair an ACL injury.
- Meniscus Injury: The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage located in the knee. Injury can occur when the knee joint is unnaturally twisted or over-flexed. Symptoms of a meniscus injury might involve a popping noise, knee pain when walking, swelling or locking of the knee joint. In less severe cases the R.I.C.E. method might suffice, while for serious injury, physical therapy and surgery may be necessary.
As you launch into a year of renewed health and fitness, be aware of the risks and listen to your body to avoid injury. While our orthopedic specialists at EIRMC are more than happy to help you get on track with your health, we'd prefer an injury-free new year to accompany your impressive resolutions. So stay safe and enjoy getting back on your feet and into shape!