4 Reasons Your Knee Injury May be Serious

Your knee is one of the most commonly injured part of your body with about 750,000 visits to the ER for knee injuries in the United States annually. While many of these may be simple strains and sprains, there are several factors which can indicate the injury is more than something simple that will resolve in a week.

Your knee is very swollen

Injuries that cause the knee to swell on the inside, often called water on the knee, usually occur suddenly with an injury that results in bleeding inside the joint. This can occur from a ligament injury at a fairly high rate, but also with meniscal tears or cartilage injuries. The knee swelling is either from bleeding or a reaction to the injury.

Your knee is stuck or locked

An injury that leaves you with a knee that will not bend or straighten can indicate that something is blocking knee motion like a meniscus tear. Such a tear can prevent the knee from going straight without severe pain. These injuries should be checked out right away by an orthopedic surgeon as you may need surgery to get your knee moving again.
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Your knee clicks and pops

Clicking and popping that comes on with an injury may indicate the meniscus is torn and while not an emergency, should warrant a good evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon to see if you need an MRI to look for a tear.

Your knee feels unstable

A sense of instability after an injury may mean you have a ligament injury. Most athletes feel a ‘pop’ or tearing sensation followed soon after by joint swelling. While the initial swelling may go down, a feeling of instability —stepping off a curb for example — may indicate a ligament injury that is not going to get better without treatment.