When do you need surgery after a knee injury?

Mr Sam Rajaratnam | August 8, 2023 | Article

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Mr Sam Rajaratnam, the UK's leading knee surgeon, explains the common types of knee injuries that tend to require surgery, and what patients should look out for when considering whether to speak to a knee doctor.

When Do You Need Surgery After a Knee Injury?

Your knee is one of the most complex and crucial joints in your body, often bearing the brunt of daily activities and high-impact movements. In my decades-long tenure as a knee surgeon, I've encountered a multitude of knee injuries, each unique in its presentation and required treatment. The essential question many patients have after suffering a knee injury is, “Will I need surgery?”

Understanding when surgical intervention is necessary can empower patients to make informed decisions about their health.

Types of Knee Injuries that Often Require Surgery:

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears: The ACL is a key ligament in the knee that provides stability. A complete tear can significantly hamper movement and lead to further damage if left untreated. While not all ACL injuries require surgery, those with a complete tear, especially active individuals or athletes, might benefit from ACL reconstruction.

Meniscal Tears:The menisci are cartilaginous structures that cushion the knee joint. A tear can result in pain, swelling, and restricted movement. Depending on the tear's location and severity, surgery may be recommended.

Tendon Tears: Severe tendon tears, especially in the quadriceps and patellar tendons, often require surgical repair.

Fractures: A break in the knee bones, often due to high-impact trauma or underlying bone weakness, might necessitate surgical fixation.

Signs You Should Seek a Doctor:

Persistent or Intense Pain: While mild discomfort can be expected after a knee injury, if the pain remains intense or doesn’t improve with rest, seek medical attention.

Swelling: Mild swelling is common after an injury. However, if the swelling persists or is accompanied by heat and redness, it could indicate a more serious issue.

Restricted Movement: Difficulty in bending or straightening the knee, or feeling as though your knee is locked in place, warrants a checkup.

Sounds: Hearing a popping or crunching sound at the injury time can be indicative of a significant problem.

Instability: If your knee gives way while walking or feels unstable, it might be due to a ligament injury.

The Silver Lining: ACL Reconstruction and Meniscal Repair

I've had the privilege of helping numerous patients regain their mobility and return to their cherished activities. ACL reconstruction, in particular, boasts high success rates, with many athletes returning to their pre-injury levels. With advances in surgical techniques and rehabilitation, the operation offers a promising outlook for restoring knee function and stability.

Similarly, meniscal repairs have seen significant progress, allowing many individuals to retain their knee's natural cushioning, thereby prolonging joint health and promoting a quicker return to sport.

In Conclusion

While no one wishes to undergo surgery, sometimes it is the best course of action for long-term knee health and optimal function. It's paramount to consult with an experienced professional to assess the nature of your injury and devise the most effective treatment plan. With advances in medical technology and experienced hands guiding the process, the journey from injury to recovery is smoother than ever.

Note: Always consult with a healthcare professional about any medical concerns or injuries.

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