The different types of knee injury

There are many different types of knee injury, and the knee joint is one of the most important ones in our body. In supporting our full body weight, the knee acts like a hinge. This movement allows the knee to bend and straighten which creates movements like squatting, sitting, running, jumping etc.

The knee is comprised of 4 key elements:

  • Bones: Femur, Tibia, Fibula and the Patella
  • Ligaments: support the inner and outer aspects of the knee as well as the deep internal structures. You can envision them as strong ropes that keep the bones together and help create stability
  • Tendons: are extensions of the muscles which help keep the knee together
  • Cartilage: is the internal cushioning mechanisms which protect the bones from impact.

Here we take a more detailed look at the different types of knee injury, the symptoms and what you can do to prevent them.

Types of Knee Injury

Ligament Injury

Ligament injuries are quite common in sports. They are most prevalent where quick actions and movement are a combination of direction change and speed. Great examples are rugby and tennis.

The ligament damage might be mild; however, there are times when the condition may be more serious.

Generally, a ligament sprain falls in 3 different categories, based on how severe the injury is:

Grade 1 - A sprain in which there is no tear.
Grade 2 - A partial tear is present
Grade 3 - The ligament is completely torn.

Symptoms of Ligament Injury

The common symptoms of a ligament sprain are:

  • Immediate onset of pain
  • Swelling
  • The feeling of instability in the joint or looseness.
  • Potential of loud pop being heard at time of injury.
  • Inability to weight bare through the joint.

Treatment of Ligament Injury

The first thing to do in case you have a ligament sprain is to treat it with RICE. This helps ease the swelling and the pain.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation.

The severity of the injury will dictate the recovery timeline. Mild strains will recover on their own by following the RICE protocol.

Severe ligament injury may require surgical intervention.

Seeking treatment from you preferred practitioner is highly recommended.

Our team of Sports Chiropractors are well equipped to rehab a knee injury.

With a focus on:

  • decreasing the swelling,
  • breaking down scar tissue adhesions,
  • rebuilding stability
  • creating a rehab program to get you back on track.

The team will take you through a full rehabilitation program to get you back to you favourite sport as soon as possible.

Cartilage Tear - Meniscus Injury

Cartilage tear - meniscus injury

The meniscus can be considered the key shock absorber in the knee.

Each knee has two C shaped bits of cartilage, on the outer and inner part of the knee. Each one can sustain an injury.

Most commonly injury occurs due to forceful twisting of the knee.

Injury can also occur with heavy lifting from a deep squatting position.

Symptoms of Meniscus Injury

The most common symptoms of a cartilage tear are:

  • Sudden onset of pain with a severe tear
  • Intermittent swelling, this may not always be obvious due to the deep nature of the meniscus.
  • The knee may catch during movement and you may feel an inability to properly move through the movement.
  • Instability in the knee and the sensation that the knee will give way.

When the swelling is quite pronounced, additional issues of movement in the joint will present. This is due to the restriction of the fluid in the limited space.

Treatment of Meniscus Injury

Firstly, the injury needs to be diagnosed. This can include an XRay, Ultrasound or MRI.

Initial treatment includes:

  • medication to assist in decreasing inflammation.
  • rest,
  • ice - also to assist in decreasing inflammation
  • elevation - this helps ease the swelling and reduce pain
  • Compression, again to decrease the inflammation.

If the tears are minor, they will heal over a period of time (5-6 weeks). A longer period of time would be expected for more severe cases. As meniscus injuries are slow to heal, surgery is not always indicated.

Patella Bursitis

Patella Bursitis

A bursa is a small sac of fluid that sits between the bone and tendon, muscles and skin.

Bursa are designed to reduce friction and create cushioning. They are found all over the body and the knee itself has up to 11 bursa!

Any of the bursa in the knee can become inflamed and swell, however the most common is the one that sits in front of the knee cap, known as the prepatella bursa.

Most commonly this type of bursa shows up in people who are required to constantly kneel, like plumbers and carpet layers.

It can also stem from direct trauma to the knee as in the example of a fall.

Symptoms of Bursitis

The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain and tenderness over the area
  • Warmth that can be felt from the inflammation
  • Swelling, which can at times be quite severe
  • Limited range of motion

Treatment of Bursitis

Treatment of the area will first include a diagnosis. Following on from that you can expect:

  • Decreasing the inflammation and pain with RICE, strapping and dry needling.
  • Releasing any tension in the surrounding muscles contributing to tension on the knee
  • Rehabilitating through exercise prescription any strengthening required
  • Improving gait as required
  • Minimising chance of re aggravation through supportive considerations like knee pads (for those who continue to require to be on their knees.)

Patella Tracking Issues


Your Patella is your knee cap.

A patella tracking issue is when your knee cap moves out of it's groove when you are moving your knee joint.

Most commonly the patella will be pulled to the outside of the leg.

This is because thigh muscles do govern the stability of the knee and the vastus lateralis (outside thigh muscle) is so big and strong.

Misalignment of the patella can also occur due to wear and tear of the underside of the patella itself. The femurs groove may be too shallow or other injury may be at play.

Symptoms of Patella Tracking

The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain and possible swelling at the front of the knee, increased with movement such as squatting, jumping, kneeling and running.
  • Pain when sitting for long periods of time.
  • Popping, grinding or catching feeling when flexing and extending the knee.
  • A feeling that your knee can buckle with movement.

It's important to note the many similarities between the knee injury types and the importance of a comprehensive assessment to diagnose the potential injury.

Treatment of Patella Tracking

The first priority of treatment is to decrease the inflammation. This can be through resting and icing.

Once inflammation has decreased, treatment can being. The key component of treatment for this type of injury is:

  • Decrease the muscular tension that is pulling the patella off course
  • Develop strength in the muscles that are weak, to bring balance back to the knee.

The use of knee braces and strapping can be utilised to help facilitate a speedy process of recovery.

Patella Tendonitis


Patella tendonitis can also go by several other commonly known names and is often referred to as the jumpers knee.

There are tendons above and below the knee cap that are an extension of the quadricep. These tendons can be inflammed with overuse exercise. They can also be narrowed down into supra and infra patella tendonitis (meaning above or below the knee cap).

This particular injury most commonly stems in athletes in sports such as soccer, basketball, volley ball, skiing. In these and similar sports there is lots of force that goes through the knee. Additionally there are lots of sudden stopping movements.

Injury here can be sudden or it can build up over time and become an overuse injury.

Tendonitis Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • Localised pain over the tendon (close to the knee cap)
  • Pain becomes worse with activity and after activity
  • Stiffness with rest, such as first thing in the morning
  • Tenderness to touch over the area.

Tendonitis Treatment

As is similar with the other knee injuries discussed the immediate focus is on decrease pain and inflammation to the area.

Our team are proficient in:

  • Decreasing inflammation with the application of dry needling technique to the area
  • Applying soft tissue release technique to break down any adhesions.
  • Releasing contributing tension in the quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Providing rehabilitation exercises as and when required.

Preventing a Knee Injury

If you are taking part in any kind of physical activity, it's important that you warm-up and cool down appropriately as this helps make the muscles less prone to injury.

It's also best to maintain a stable and healthy body weight as excess weight tends to pressurize the joints.

You can significantly reduce the chance of slipping & falling awkwardly, by avoiding or taking care when playing a sport in any slippery conditions.

Lastly, we are big believers in prevention being better than the cure. So when you feel a niggle come on, address it. It's best not to leave it until it becomes a full blown injury. Seek out professional help, address the niggles and then go back to your chosen sport with the confidence in knowing you are doing the right thing.

Now is the time to schedule that appointment with our team. You can rest assured that with our team will keep you will be looked after in good hands.

Book your first appointment with our Sports Chiropractors today.