Knee and Lower Leg Doctors
There were approximately 10.4 million patient visits to doctor’s offices due to common knee injuries such as fractures, sprains, dislocations, and ligament tears. Knee injuries are among the most regular reasons people visit their doctors. Because the knee is a complex joint with a variety of muscles and components throughout, it can be susceptible to a wide range of injuries. In many cases, injuries involve multiple structures in the knee. Knee problems often arise in physical sports, but typically happen as a result of high-energy trauma like a car accident or a high fall. Nonsurgical treatment involves a variety of simple measures, like immobilization, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medication. In cases where surgery is required, such as ACL tears, a routine arthroscopic procedure will be the preferred method of treatment.
Total Knee Replacement
If your knee issue has not responded well to non-surgical options, it might be time to consider a total knee replacement. A knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) might be more accurately termed a knee “resurfacing” because only the surface of the bones are replaced. Patients who have a total knee replacement experience significantly more comfort and freedom in their daily tasks, but this procedure has its limits and does not allow patients to do more than they could before their knee issue developed.
There are four basic steps to a knee replacement procedure:
- Prepare the bone. The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone.
- Position the metal implants. The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or “press-fit” into the bone.
- Resurface the patella. The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not resurface the patella, depending upon the case.
- Insert a spacer. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.
Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) is an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your tibia. Pain typically occurs along the inner border of the tibia, where muscles attach to the bone.
Shin splints often occur after sudden changes in physical activity. These can be changes in frequency, such as increasing the number of days you exercise each week. Changes in duration and intensity, such as running longer distances or on hills, can also cause shin splints.
Rest. Shin splints are usually caused my overuse so rest until symptoms subside tend to be the most effective treatment. You could also do activities that put less stress on the area such as swimming or biking.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.
Ice. Ice the area for 20 minutes several times a day. Wrap cold back or ice in a towel
Flexibility exercises. Stretching your lower leg muscles may make your shins feel better.
Supportive shoes. Wearing shoes with good cushioning during daily activities will help reduce stress in your shins.
Orthotics. People who have flat feet or recurrent problems with shin splints may benefit from orthotics. Shoe inserts can help align and stabilize your foot and ankle, taking stress off of your lower leg. Orthotics can be custom-made for your foot, or purchased “off the shelf.”
Return to exercise. Shin splints usually resolve with rest and the simple treatments described above. Make sure pain has been gone for at least 2 week and start with low intensity workouts. If pain returns stop exercising immediatly and ice for a couple more days
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
An ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries that occur in athletes who participate in high demand sports such as basketball, soccer, or football and can require surgery to regain full function of your knee depending on the severity of the injury. It is possible to avoid surgery after such an injury, but returning to high demand sports without treatment is likely to result in further damage to your knee.
The anterior cruciate ligament can be injured in several ways including changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, landing from a jump incorrectly, or direct contact or collision such as a football tackle. Studies show that ACL tears occur more often in female athletes in certain sports.
- Pain with swelling, within 24 hours of the injury. This pain may subside, but the knee will feel unstable after a return to sports, and you risk further damage to the knee if it goes without treatment
- Tenderness along the joint line
- Loss of range of motion in the knee
- Discomfort while walking