For more than 20 years, Dr. Mark Wichman has served as an orthopaedic surgeon with Aurora Advanced Orthopaedics in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In that role, Dr. Mark Wichman has treated numerous acute knee injuries.
Acute injuries, which occur as a result of impact or other sudden trauma as opposed to overuse, can damage any number of the soft tissues of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is subject to tearing upon a poor jump landing or rapid direction change, while the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) may tear upon impact to the kneecap. Tears in either ligament can interfere with the front-to-back stability of the joint.
The medial collateral ligament (MCL), which runs along the side of the knee, is an even more commonly injured structure. Tears to this ligament occur when an impact to the outside of the knee pushes the joint inward, while a blow that sends the knee outward can injure the lateral cruciate ligament (LCL) on the knee’s interior side.
Other vulnerable structures in the knee include the patellar and quadriceps tendons, which connect the leg bones to the joint. These commonly occur due to falls, improper jump landings, or impact, and are most prevalent among athletes of middle age.
Injuries to the meniscus, a cushion of cartilage inside the knee joint, may also be more likely as the athlete ages. Like the ACL, these tears can occur when the individual twists, turns, or changes direction rapidly, though the kind of sudden movements that cause tearing may be much more subtle in an older individual.