Knee Pain, Knee Surgery, Knee Surgeon

Knee Pain Making Your Glory Days Feel Like Ancient History?

Does your nagging knee pain remind you of your glory days as a star athlete perhaps being queen (or king) of your rec league? If you’re like many active adults, you’ve been competing in one form or another most of your life. But if an incoming weather front makes you think more about Advil than getting the gang together for a rematch, those old sports injuries might be catching up with you.

Believe it or not this is not all bad news – remaining active at any age helps us maintain mobility, flexibility and good mental health,as long as we take a smart approach to those activities. Addressing nagging knee pain is not the huge production it used to be. Gone are the days of four-inch scars and six weeks of immobilization. Today, relief can come in many forms,from physical therapy and other non-surgical solutions, to minimally invasive procedures that can offer immense relief and get you back in the game in a matter of weeks.

For many lifelong athletes, knee pain as an adult can be the result of a previous injury like a torn ACL, meniscus or MCL. According to the Cleveland Clinic, years after the original injury was repaired “post-traumatic arthritis” can and does occur in more than 5 million people in the US. Most non-traumatic arthritis occurs in adults 60 years or older so signs of arthritis in younger adults is often tied to a previous injury.

As we age, regular wear and tear from everyday life can compound the pain making it more difficult to stay active. Swelling due to accumulation of fluid in the knee can lead to pain and is one of the most common symptoms of knee arthritis or soft tissue injury in the knee.

If you have knee pain from an old injury, relief starts by ensuring you maintain a healthy body weight and emphasizing strength training – particularly in muscles around the knee – to protect the joint. It’s also more important than ever to incorporate low-impact exercise into your routine. Great options include biking, rowing, swimming, yoga and Pilates. By keeping multiple fitness goals in mind, such as strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness, you’ll be putting your whole body in a better position to stay healthy and be active.

But if you feel like you’ve been masking the symptoms of nagging knee pain with NSAIDs like Advil or meloxicam for far too long, it might be time for a visit to your orthopedic specialist. They can help you determine if an injection of cortisone or synthetic joint fluid can ease the pain, or if you need debris like damaged cartilage or bone removed from the joint. For some, knee reconstruction or replacement might be the best option as both procedures bring very effective and lasting relief without the massive recovery time you might recall from decades ago.

Preventing future injury

While there may not be many good ways to prevent the progression of arthritis and knee pain that comes years after an injury, you can still minimize future joint pain by working hard to prevent injuries today. Remember these tips:

  • Always warm up to get your body loose and ready to work.
  • Stretch before and especially after each workout or sports activity.
  • Make smart decisions about participating in contact sports – always wear the proper gear and try to minimize hard hits.
  • Listen to your body and don’t overdo it! Even if your competitive fire is at full strength, remember that your body may not heal as quickly or completely as it did years ago.

Knee Specialists

Dr. Mark Failinger

James Ferrari, MD

Dr. James Ferrari

Wayne Gersoff, MD

Dr. Wayne Gersoff

dr harold hunt denver co

Dr. Harold Hunt

Jared Michalson, MD

Dr. Jared Michalson

H. Andrew Motz, MD

Dr. Andy Motz

Cary Motz, MD

Dr. Cary Motz

John Papilion, MD

Dr. John Papilion

Scott Resig, MD

Dr. Scott Resig

R. Presley Swann, MD

Dr. Presely Swann

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!


Tom A

Dr. Papilion, I want to thank you so much for the absolute outstanding care you have provided me from day one. It really means a lot


I just wanted to take the time to thank you Dr. Papilion for the great ACL replacement. I’m so excited to finally be on the road to recovery after 2 painful years! You and your staff have been so great throughout the process and I will definitely refer my friends and colleagues to your practice!

Lyn F

Unfortunately I’ve had to use the expertise of Dr. Papilion more times than I like. He has done three surgeries and will do his fourth in a few weeks. His care and consideration of all my needs has been exceptional and he would certainly be the individual I would recommend to anyone needing his type of surgical skills. He and his staff truly seem to care about me as an individual.


Thank you Dr. Papilion. I was apprehensive and nervous about my first surgical procedure, but you and your staff made me comfortable and answered all my questions, putting all my concerns to rest. I couldn’t be more grateful to Dr. Papilion and his medical staff for the exemplary care they’ve taken of me!