Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knee Injury 101: Cartilage Tears and Strains

Knee injury affects more than 12 million Americans each year. Your knee is essentially the largest joint in your body and experiences highly repetitive usage. For this reason, cartilage tears and ligament sprains are the most common knee injuries treated by orthopedic surgeons.

What exactly do ligaments and cartilage do? Ligaments are situated around the knee. These ligaments both brace the knee on impact and aid in over-all motion control. Your knee’s cartilage complements the ligament by cushioning the knee, also absorbing some of the shock of impact.

What’s the difference between an ACL, MCL & PCL? The ACL stands for “anterior cruciate ligament” and it is located in the front of the knee. The MCL is the “medial collateral ligament” and it connects the femur and tibia. The PCL or “posterior cruciate ligament” is located behind the knee. The ACL and MCL are very common injuries. The PCL is more difficult to injure.

What causes an ACL or MCL tear? ACL injuries are typically the result of maneuvering. A quick turn or twist, or change in speed, while performing a rigorous activity can result in an ACL tear. These types of tears can also result when landing from a jump, a good example of sports that carry this risk include basketball, volleyball, soccer and skiing. A person who experiences an ACL tear will often hear a pop, followed by their knee giving out and considerable pain. Rehabilitation can include the use of ACL braces, sports therapy and surgery. MCL and PCL injuries on the other hand, are usually the result of a significant blow to the knee. This is something frequently seen is heavy contact sports such as football and rugby. These sort of injuries have unique ligament-specific braces, and may also require a sports therapist or surgery.

Who is at risk? If you play impact sports, your knees are at risk. Proper stretching, strength training and warming up can help mitigate that risk. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that women are more likely than men to suffer ACL injuries. In fact, a female soccer player is four times more likely than a male soccer player to tear their ACL. This is likely due to how a female’s hips distribute weight on the knees. For this reason, female athletes should take extra care and use strategic weight lifting to strengthen muscles and stabilize the knees.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces and supports. For quality ACL braces, a wide back braces and more, please visit www.mmarmedical.com.

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