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Hurt Knee Skiing

Hurt my knee skiing

Avid Colorado skiers know that it’s been a good year so far, with snow levels pacing well ahead of last year. This is great news for locals who want to get in as many days as possible, but bad news if you hurt your knee skiing all that great powder. When people overdo it or get into terrain that is beyond their ability, knee injuries are common. If you hurt your knee skiing, there are several things you should know to minimize further damage and recover more quickly.

I hurt my knee skiing. Do I need to go to urgent care?

Thankfully, most knee injuries are do not require an expensive trip to the ER or urgent care and treatment can start at home as long as you see an orthopedist relatively quickly following your injury. Read on to learn about three of the most common skiing knee injuries, and how to prevent and treat them.

A) Knee Sprains – Knee sprains account for about 30 percent of all skiing injuries and are becoming more common than ever. Strains occur when one or more ligaments is stretched or torn. Skiing can naturally create circumstances where your knee is twisted or forced out of its normal position. If you have pain or swelling but still have range of motion and stability, you may have a knee sprain.

Sprains require RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and then a trip to your orthopedic specialist. Your doctor will evaluate your knee to confirm it is indeed a sprain and recommend the right treatment to maximize the healing process. But be careful not to ice too long and avoid putting ice directly on your skin. A good rule of thumb is twenty minutes on, forty minutes off. Too much ice can cause nerve damage and frost bite.

B) Torn MCL – More severe than a sprain, a medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear is actually the most common skiing knee injury. The reason for this is twofold: first, beginner and intermediate skiers far outnumber advanced skiers and MCL tears are most likely to occur in less-skilled skiers. Second, the MCL becomes strained or torn when the knees are turned in, which is common when you go into a snowplow (or “pizza”) position.

The symptoms of an MCL tear are often similar to that of a sprain, so it’s important to see an orthopedic expert to ensure you are correctly diagnosed. Some MCL patients also experience a catching or locking feeling or recognize marked instability as well.

If you do manage to tear your MCL, the good news is that most MCL tears can often be treated without surgery. Treatment typically includes the RICE formula, physical therapy to maintain range of motion and build strength, plus the use of a protective brace as you get back into physical activity.

C) A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is also one of the most common skiing knee injuries. ACL tears are usually considered more severe because they frequently occur in conjunction with damage to another part of the knee. An ACL tear is often caused by a sudden stop or change in direction (think crowds on the slopes, moguls, catching an edge, or navigating an unexpected turn).

While treatment often involves surgery, today’s technology is much less invasive than it was years ago, so you don’t have to worry about a giant “zipper” scar up the front of your knee and most patients begin physical therapy days after surgery. A good orthopedic surgeon can help patients get back to being active quickly with minimally invasive techniques and a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

A fresh powder day is certainly tempting, but you don’t want it to be your last of the season! You can minimize your chances of these common skiing knee injuries by remembering a few key points:

  • Always ski within your ability and ensure that you keep yourself balanced as you go downhill. Keeping your weight forward (but not too far forward) with your hips and knees bent will help you maintain a balanced position. Leaning back forces your feet forward in your boots (ouch) and ensures you’ll be on your rear end more often than you’d like.
  • Take a break when you need to. It’s easy to get overly excited when there’s such great snow but remember if this is your first time up for the season (or the decade), take it slow! Skiing is a workout, and if you haven’t been doing many (or any) leg exercises, even a few runs can take their toll quickly. Don’t overdo it.
  • Get in ski shape. If you have time to start conditioning before you go, do it! Even just a few weeks of leg and core exercises will make a difference and help minimize your chance of common skiing knee injuries.

Even with all these precautions, accidents do happen, and knee injuries are quite common. If you are reading this because you think you may have injured your knee – we can help!

You know your body best, so never avoid emergency treatment if you think you need it. The good news is that many people are able to apply ice, elevate the knee, and use crutches to get around until their appointment. We can usually see you within 24 hours. Schedule an appointment today with one of our orthopedic knee specialists to get back on your feet and back on the slopes!

meniscus surgery

A meniscus tear can stall your soccer season: when it’s time for meniscus surgery

Snow may be covering many area soccer fields right now, but whether it’s club and high school spring soccer or the adult league you’ve been looking forward to all winter, off-season conditioning and indoor sessions have given way to the first days of outdoor cuts on turf and grass. It’s this time of year that, despite smart training, we see more patients for meniscus surgery, whose hard winter work has been quickly undone by a meniscus tear.

To keep you on the field and minimize down-time, it’s important to recognize the vital difference between soreness and pain – and what the pain may be telling you. Soccer is a sport built on running, cutting and twisting moves – both offensively and defensively – and many of these actions have the potential to strain or tear a vulnerable part of your knee.

Meniscus tears can be contact or non-contact injuries that occur during quick, twisting or hard-planting movements on the weight-bearing knee. Whether you are attacking a defense or mirroring an opposing player, unfortunately, these moves place strain on the weakest element of your shock-absorbing knees, and a moderate or severe tear often requires meniscus surgery.

What is a meniscus tear?

A meniscus tear is damage to one (or both) of the c-shaped cushions that stabilize and protect your joint. The severity of the meniscus tear can vary from a minor, treatable with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to a moderate or major tear requiring meniscus surgery to repair damage to the meniscal cartilage. Meniscus tears are more common in adult athletes (30 years and older) simply because the menisci loses some of its resiliency as we age. However, severe injury can occur at any age and it’s important to recognize an injury that requires immediate care.

Common signs of a meniscus tear, and when you might need meniscus surgery

The most common signs of a meniscus tear can vary depending upon the severity and type of tear. The range of symptoms can vary from an achy nuisance type of discomfort often associated with some swelling to a popping sound that the knee meniscus cartilage makes  as the cartilage breaks free that will frequently prevent the athlete from fully extending their knee ( a locked knee). In the more acute situation, the athlete may experience a decreased range of motion and either sharp pain or the inability to stop themselves when they attempt a squat to test knee stability.

If you experience a severe knee injury or any meniscus tear symptoms, do not continue to walk on your injured leg as you risk further damage. Tell your coach, parent or trainer immediately and seek medical evaluation. The knee can be properly splinted and crutches utilized to protect the meniscus tear from further damage while you seek care. Prompt diagnosis and protection of a meniscus tear – including determining whether the tear is severe enough to require meniscus surgery – will minimize recovery time and maximize post-surgery knee function.

Is meniscus surgery right for me?

Meniscus surgery is an arthroscopic treatment to either repair or remove a meniscus tear. Because it’s minimally invasive, it’s a good treatment at many ages, allows for a fairly rapid recovery and is often the best (or only) option for a full recovery. Meniscus surgery provides the optimal way to repair the damage if possible or remove any damaged meniscal cartilage that may be causing any pain or discomfort. There are also techniques now available to either replace a segment of the meniscus or the entire meniscus if indicated. Meniscus surgery is an out-patient procedure that lasts approximately an hour. Whether you are an athlete or not, your orthopedic specialist will work with you to determine if meniscus surgery provides the best option for a positive outcome.

Recovering from meniscus surgery

Recovery time from meniscus surgery can range from three weeks to three months, depending on the severity of the meniscus tear and the procedure required to correct it. Recovery plans involve rest and rehabilitation and are tailored to the severity of the meniscus tear, each patient’s physical condition and best practices in recovery and rehabilitation. Rehab plans are designed to regain function and range of motion and to return to pre-injury levels of activity.

In sports (and life) reaction time is everything. That’s true whether it’s making a split-second decision during a game or making a decision about your injury. At Advanced Orthopedics and  Sports Medicine, we want you to be able to quickly identify meniscus tears and give you the best treatment, rehab and support to get you back in the game.  Schedule an appointment today with one of our orthopedic knee specialists to get back on your feet!

common skiing knee injuries

Avoid the Most Common Skiing Knee Injuries When Hitting the Slopes

It’s time to hit the slopes! Crested Butte has gotten 112 inches of snow in January alone, and most of Summit county has at least a 60-inch base. But with all that fresh powder, it’s easy to get bogged down in a turn or just plain worn out. Common skiing knee injuries happen when people overdo it or get into terrain that is beyond their ability.

But the good news is that many knee injuries are not emergent – meaning that treatment can start at home, and you can save yourself and expensive trip to the ER or urgent care – as long as you see an orthopedist within 24 hours. Read on to learn about three of the most common skiing knee injuries, how to avoid and treat them.

  1. Knee Sprains – Kneesprains account for about 30 percent of all skiing injuries and are becoming more common than ever. Strains occur when one or more ligaments is stretched or torn. Skiing can naturally create circumstances where your knee is twisted forced out of its normal position. If you have pain or swelling but still have range of motion and some stability, you may have a knee sprain.

Sprains require RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and sometimes a trip to your orthopedic specialist. Your doctor will evaluate your knee to confirm it’s indeed a sprain and recommend the right treatment maximize the healing process. But be careful not to ice too long and avoid putting ice directly on your skin. A good rule of thumb is twenty minutes on, forty minutes off.  Too much can cause nerve damage and frost bite.

  1. Torn MCL – More severe than a sprain, a medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear is actually the most common skiing knee injury. The reason for this is twofold: first, beginner and intermediate skiers far outnumber advanced skiers and MCL tears are most likely to occur in less-skilled skiers. Second, the MCL becomes strained or torn when the knees are turned in, which is common when you go into a snowplow (or “pizza,” as many kids call it) position.

The symptoms of an MCL tear are often similar to that of a sprain, so it’s important to see an expert to ensure you are correctly diagnosed.  Some MCL patients also experience a catching or locking feeling, or recognized marked instability as well.

If you do manage to tear your MCL, the good news is that most MCL tears – can often be treated without surgery. Treatment typically includes the RICE formula, as well as physical therapy to maintain range of motion and build strength  or use of a protective brace as you get back into physical activity.

  1. A torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is also one of the top most common skiing knee injuries. ACL tears are often considered more severe because they often occur in conjunction with damage to another part of the knee. An ACL tear is often caused by a sudden stop or change in direction (think crowds on the slopes, moguls, catching an edge, or navigating an unexpected turn).

Treatment usually involves surgery, but today’s technology is much less invasive than it was years ago, and most patients begin physical therapy days after surgery. A good orthopedic surgeon can help patients get back to being active quickly with minimally invasive techniques and a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

A fresh powder day is certainly tempting, but you don’t want it to be your last of the season! You can minimize your chances of all these common skiing knee injuries by remembering a few key points:

  • Always within your ability level, and ensure that you keep yourself balanced as you go downhill. Keeping your weight forward (but not too far forward) with your hips and knees bent will help you maintain a balanced position. Leaning back forces your feet forward in your boots (ouch) and ensures you’ll end up on your rear end more often than you’d like.
  • Take a break when you need to. It’s easy to get overly excited when there’s such great snow, but remember if this is your first time up for the season (or the decade), take it slow! Skiing is a workout, and if you haven’t been doing many (or any) leg workouts, even a few runs can take their toll quickly. Don’t overdo it.
  • Get in ski shape. If you have time to start conditioning before you go, do it! Even if just a few weeks of leg and core exercises will make a different and help to minimize your chance of common skiing knee injuries significantly.

Even taking all the precautions, accidents do happen, and these common skiing knee injuries, are just that – common. If you are reading this because you think you may have hurt your knee – we can help!

You know your body best, so never avoid emergency treatment if you think you need it, but many people are able to apply ice, elevate the knee, and use crutches to get around until their appointment. We can usually see you within 24 hours.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our orthopedic knee specialists to get back on your feet and back on the slopes!

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

ACL tear: causes, symptoms and treatment options for this common knee injury

Knee pain and knee injuries such as an ACL tear are all too common occurrences, whether you compete in organized sports or play recreationally. Like many knee injuries, an ACL tear is often caused by movements that we see in sports like tennis, basketball and football, such as landing flat on your heels or planting your feet in sharp, weight-bearing motions, which can put your knees in vulnerable positions and make you more susceptible to injury. But ACL tears can also occur from everyday activities like walking, jumping, squatting or any twisting motion when your leg is bent.

Regardless of the cause, females are three times more likely than males to suffer injuries like an ACL tear, and older adults are more susceptible to knee injuries from wear and tear rather than traumatic movements.

Sprain vs. ACL Tear: Signs to look for

ACL injuries are classified as grade I, II or III sprains – so even a tear is called a “sprain” in medical terms. A sprain in the traditional sense occurs when the ligament fibers stretch, but do not a tear.  The knee retains its stability and there is minimal swelling or tenderness. A grade II sprain is a partial ACL tear, which causes some tenderness, swelling and instability. The most severe, grade III ACL tear is when the ACL ruptures and the ligament has completely torn into two parts.

While an ACL tear frequently presents with a popping sound or sensation, loss of stability and decreased range of motion, rather than severe pain is another key sign.

Treatment options for ACL tears

While an ACL tear impacts only the anterior cruciate ligament, additional injuries can impact more than one of the three joint compartments in the knee. Your treatment options will vary depending on your activity level, age, the severity of the ACL tear, other joint damage and any resulting stability issues.

When evaluating treatment options for an ACL tear, consider both the short and long-term impacts of each option. Rehabilitation through physical therapy is a productive place to start. Therapy will reduce swelling, pain and restore range of motion, as well as help to strengthen surrounding muscles.

Reconstruction to address an ACL tear is often a good solution for active individuals who do not recapture enough stability from therapy and want to continue to participate in activities that involving cutting, pivoting, and turning motions like skiing, basketball or tennis.

An orthopedic surgeon will remove and replace the damaged ligament – a procedure called ACL reconstruction. The replacement tissue – called a graft – stabilizes the knee and allows new ligament tissue to grow. Post-operative rehabilitation therapy is key to ensure the return of normal range of motion and strength for the long term. ACL tear patients who opt for surgery typically return to their sports in six to 12 months.

For diagnosis and treatment of ACL tears, see us at our Denver or Parker location. Call for an appointment (303) 344-9090.