Tackling Knee Pain
December 9, 2015 -- Snap, crackle, and pop may be the sounds your favorite cereal makes after adding milk, but snapping and popping are not sounds you want coming from your leg.
What part of your leg could create such a sound? The tearing of a ligament—the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most common. “Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect one bone to another,” explains Dr. Kenneth Newhouse, one of the area’s top orthopedic surgeons at Bingham Memorial’s Orthopedic Institute. “The ACL connects your thighbone to your shinbone to help stabilize your knee joint.”
A large majority of ACL injuries occur during sports and fitness activities. The ligament may tear when someone pivots or twists with their foot firmly planted, slows down suddenly to change direction, or hyperextends their knee.
Double board certified in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. Newhouse served for 20 years as the head team physician of the athletics department at Idaho State University in Pocatello. “In eastern Idaho, I see a lot of torn ACLs from skiing, basketball, and football incidents,” says Dr. Newhouse.
At the time of an ACL injury, signs and symptoms may include a loud “pop” sound, severe pain and the inability to continue your current activity. Another symptom is knee swelling that continues to get worse for hours after the injury occurs. Some people also experience shakiness or the “giving out” sensation when applying weight.
Depending on the severity of an ACL injury, treatment may include surgery to replace the torn ligament followed by physical therapy to help a patient regain strength and stability. Rehabilitative exercise can offer a full recovery for non-athletes, based on a physician’s recommendation.
As the weather changes, people will be preparing for winter sporting activities, especially skiing and snowboarding. To be safe and to help prevent injuries while engaging in outdoor activities, Dr. Newhouse recommends taking it easy and knowing your limits. “Build up slowly or gradually, and try not to go too fast too soon,” says Dr. Newhouse. In addition, he recommends doing light aerobics to warm the entire body before participating in an activity and practicing sport-specific, dynamic stretching to ease muscles while they are in motion.
Preseason Ski WorkoutsWith ski season underway, keep your body properly trained to avoid injury, so everyone can enjoy a full day on the slopes. Dr. Newhouse and Bingham Memorial’s Physical Therapists recommend doing some of the following exercises and techniques to help you stay strong and active during ski season. Click here.
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