Hurt Your Knee Playing Sports? Here's A Look At Possible Injuries

If you've hurt your knee playing soccer, football or another sport, you're not alone. Knee injuries among athletes are with more than 6 million knee injuries presenting in U.S. emergency rooms between 1999 and 2008. While there is no way to know for sure what injury you are suffering from without a visit to an orthopedic doctor, you can get a little peace of mind by comparing your symptoms to those of these common knee injuries.

ACL Tear

Your anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a tough band of connective tissue that connects your tibia and femur. This ligament can become torn when you plant your foot on the ground and turn rapidly. It also commonly tears in athletes who land incorrectly from a jump. Signs that your injury might be an ACL tear include a large amount of swelling around the knee cap, a feeling of slight instability when you walk, and inability to fully bend the leg at the knee.

Patients with very minor tears sometimes recover with a few months of rest and physical therapy. However, most ACL tears must be surgically repaired. Following the surgery, patients generally need several months to a year of physical therapy and rehab before they are able to return to sports.

MCL Tear

The medial collateral ligament, which runs along the inside of the knee, is also commonly torn. This injury often occurs when a player is hit in the knee with a ball or by the body of another athlete. It can also happen when the knee is twisted. Symptoms of an MCL tear include pain that is most prevalent along the inside of the knee, swelling that first appears on the inside of the knee and then spreads across the knee, and bruising.

Most MCL injuries do not require surgery and can be rehabbed with rest, a brace, and ice therapy. A complete tear of the MCL (which is rare) will require surgical repair.

Meniscus Tear

The menisci are two pieces of cartilage that act as padding between the femur and tibia, which come together to form your knee. Often, a torn meniscus happens when your full weight is placed on the knee and it is forcefully rotated. In addition to the swelling and pain that occur with any knee injury, a meniscus tear causes the patient to be unable to fully extend the leg at the knee.

Minor meniscus tears will sometimes heal with rest, ice, and medication. Most orthopedic doctors will recommend trying this method first. However, if the tear does not begin healing properly on its own, surgery will be required. Visit for more information.