Common Knee Injuries


The knee joint commonly suffers injuries, either during sporting activity or an accident such as a fall. The vast majority of these injuries are minor, with the expectation of a full recovery after just a few days of rest and sometimes some exercises with the help of a physiotherapist. Occasionally, the injury may be more severe, and it is then that referral to an orthopaedic surgeon may be recommended by the patient’s General Practitioner or physiotherapist.

Cartilage Injury

Injury to the cartilage (meniscus) is usually caused by a twisting injury, often during sport such as football or rugby. In older people, the cartilage becomes more prone to injury and tears may be associated with early arthritis in the joint.

Although many cartilage tears may settle down in time, they often lead to persistent problems, with pain, swelling, loss of normal movement of the joint, and an inability to get back to more vigorous activities. Arthroscopy (‘keyhole’ surgery) is then usually advised, as a means of excising or repairing the damaged area. Learn more about arthroscopy.


Rugby is a common source of ligament injury

Ligament Injury

More serious injury may lead to damage to ligaments around or inside the knee. Often disability is significant, with a feeling of instability leading to lack of confidence in the knee. If physiotherapy fails to be of benefit, surgery may be required. The most common ligament injury which may require surgery is the anterior cruciate ligament, most commonly ruptured during twisting contact sports such as football or netball. Learn more about anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.

Appropriate supervision by a physiotherapist is very important to allow a full recovery following such injuries and their surgical treatment. Sometimes, the initial injury is so severe that it may cause arthritis to develop in the joint in later years. Find out more about arthritis.