Football season is upon us, and football injuries are inevitably soon to follow. In this series, Parkridge Bone and Joint will cover common football injures and best treatment practices. Each week, we will cover a different section of the body. This week we will review typical knee injuries, which are the most common in football. In fact, knee injuries account for about half of all football injuries. First, let’s review some simple anatomy of the knee. The three bones that make up the knee are the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (shin bone). Between the femur and tibia is the meniscus, which acts as a shock absorber. Last are four ligaments that provide overall stability of the knee.
Gauging Injury Severity
Knee injuries most commonly occur when an athlete’s foot is planted in the ground and he either changes direction or suffers a direct hit from another player. The direction of the contact determines which ligament will be injured. There are three grades in which ligament injuries occur. A ‘Grade 1’ represents a minor sprain while a ‘Grade 2’ is a partial tear. A ‘Grade 3’ tear represents a complete tear and often requires surgery. Twisting of the knee often may also result in a meniscus tear. Typically, the athlete will have immediate pain and swelling – and often pain with walking – on the injured leg. It’s crucial that the athletic trainer or physician on the sideline examine the injury before the pain and swelling become too much for the athlete.
Justin Edwards, PA-C, physician assistant at Parkridge Bone & Joint - Hixson
First-line treatment for all sports injuries is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE). Once the athletic trainer or physician has finished the exam, it’s important to quickly apply both ice and compression and have the athlete elevate the leg. A knee immobilizer may be applied with more serious injuries. With severe injuries, the athlete may also require further treatment in a local emergency room where diagnostic imaging such as X-ray or CT scan may be performed. It’s always a good idea to follow up with an orthopedic specialist, regardless of the severity of the injury. A specialist may continue with any necessary treatment for the athlete, whether it be physical therapy or surgery and hopefully get the athlete back in the game, when appropriate.
Parkridge Bone and Joint currently has two Walk-in Clinic locations in downtown Chattanooga and Hixson. No appointment is needed. Walk-in Clinic hours are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-noon.