Knee Injuries

Advance Health Blog

Knee Injuries

Chris Goetz - Thursday, November 07, 2013

Untreated Knee Injuries from Auto Accidents Will Cause Future Mobility Issues

Goetz with CaptionBack and neck injuries, concussions or worse can result from an auto accident. These are major concerns and are some of the most common injuries we associate with a car crash. However, other serious injuries can be sustained which are sometimes overlooked because of associated injuries that may seem more serious. Knee injuries, in particular, can have a serious effect on one's well being and mobility. Among the largest and most complex joints of the body, made up of several muscles, ligaments, bones and cartilage, the knees are responsible for much of one's comfort and mobility. This same complexity offers many opportunities for potential injury. Knees are very important to mobility. Therefore, any injury, even a minor one, can have a serious effect on health and activity.

A knee injury in a car accident is caused by the sudden severe twisting or hyper-extending of the the leg. Commonly a sprain, strain or tear to one of the major ligaments will occur. This will likely result in pain, swelling and other symptoms. If not serious, these symptoms will usually go away, but any serious symptoms, or those that don't subside in a few days, should be observed by a doctor. Ignoring a serious knee injury could cause increased pain or even risk permanent damage including arthritis of the knees.

Another type of knee injury is known as "dashboard knee." It is caused by a strong, direct impact to the bent knee of someone sitting in a car during an accident. Dashboard knee could result in ligament strains, sprains or tears, or even more serious trauma. These injuries can result from different types of auto accidents including side, front or rear impacts or roll-overs.

The majority of knee injuries in auto accidents involve the hyper-extension of one or more of the knee's ligaments. These can be treated with a combination of physical therapy and pain medication. Injuries involving bone fractures, muscle tearing, damage to several ligaments or the separation of muscles from bones may call for surgery. The most common knee injury resulting from a car crash is a sprain, strain or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The ACL holds the knee joint in place and is susceptible to injury if put under stress. Symptoms from an ACL injury may take a while to manifest and include pain, bruising and swelling.

Similar, but less common, are injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). These muscles are found on the sides of the knees and are responsible for flexibility. Symptoms for MCL and LCL injuries are mostly identical to those of an ACL injury but are sometimes accompanied by a popping sound when the knee is moved.

Finally, less common but just as serious and potentially painful, are PCL injuries, or sprains or tears of the posterior cruciate ligament.  This ligament is responsible for stability and prevents the tibia from moving past the femur. Aside from pain and discomfort, an injury to the PLC can cause instability in the knee. Knee injuries can be diagnosed with the aid of an x-ray or MRI. A doctor will also check mobility and range of motion to determine the extent of the damage and look for signs of liquid or blood deposits in the area. The most common treatments for knee sprains and strains include:  

  • Splints
  • Application of heat and cold
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  •  Joint elevation
  •  Limiting physical activity
  • Physical therapy  

The patient's age does seem to have an effect on treatment results, with younger patients sometimes needing surgery to heal completely. Otherwise, many patients do very well with non-invasive treatments. Because the knees are so important to mobility and activity, it is important to receive proper medical attention for knee injuries. Failure to do so could result in more serious problems down the road. If you have suffered a knee injury in an auto accident, or in some other way, call Advance Health Services today for help recovering and to avoid any serious effects in the future.

Dr. Chris Goetz was an offensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets from 1990-1992. Having seen the benefits of therapy as he recuperated from his NFL injuries, he decided to enroll in Chiropractic Medicine school and dedicate himself to bringing relief and wellness to others. He has been Owner/Director of Advance Health Services of Miami since 1999.