Knee injuries

MRI scan of the knee showing a front view on the left and a side view on the right

The knee is a modified hinge joint. The surfaces of the joint are covered with cartilage which provides a smooth, slippery surface for painless movement. In addition the knee contains several soft tissue structures including menisci and ligaments.

These structures can all be injured and cause pain, instability and loss of function. Diagnosing such injuries is usually made with plain x-rays and an MRI scan (as seen on the right). Treatment involves having an arthroscopy, which is a “key hole” operation performed as a day case.

The following knee injuries can be treated arthroscopically:

The anterior cruciate ligament is the ligament most frequently injured during sports and skiing etc. Sometimes people are aware of a “pop” when the ligament snaps. After the pain and swelling resolves people often notice that the knee feels unstable and tends to give way. The initial treatment is a course of physiotherapy directed at muscle strengthening. If physiotherapy does not restore sufficient stability ligament reconstruction will be necessary.