Just like it is with any sort of physical activity, your body is unfortunately susceptible to knee injuries. A lot of this depends on your previous health, age, physicality of the sport and many other factors, but extreme sports tend to bring out a lot of the most common knee injuries.
Some of them are minor and only take a day or two to recover while some can take months or years. To fully determine the severity of a knee injury, a knee MRI will be required.
Whether you’re skateboarding, skiing, scuba diving or taking part in any other extreme sport, you’ll want to take care of your knees. Anyone that has had knee injuries throughout their lives can tell you just how important it is to take care of them at a young age as it affects you greatly later in life.
What are the most common types of knee injuries that you should be looking out for, though? Here are the knee injuries that seem to go hand in hand (or knee in knee) with extreme sports.
While wearing knee pads during extreme sports is mainly to prevent scrapes and breaks, preventing dislocated knees is another major reason.
When worn tightly, knee pads can help prevent dislocations, which can happen no matter what type of extreme sport you’re doing. When your leg is planted in one position, a sudden change in direction can cause your knee to dislocate.
It doesn’t matter what type of shape you’re in, knee dislocations of any severity are likely to happen at some point for an extreme athlete. If your kneecap becomes dislocated, you’ll want to get it back into place as quickly as possible to allow it to set.
The knee will then be stabilized throughout recovery, with some recoveries only taking a couple of weeks. For more severe dislocations, it can take up to two months to see a full recovery.
When people think of sports (and especially extreme or high impact sports), one of the first injuries that comes to mind is an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear. The ACL is the knee ligament that connects your femur to your tibia, and can become hyperextended or torn quite easily with extreme sports.
The telltale sign that your ACL has torn is a “pop” sound, and although you may be able to walk momentarily, the pain will set in quickly.
The first instinct for many is to place their knee in a splint if they feel they have an ACL tear, but this isn’t the case. Instead, you should immediately use ice and raise your leg above your heart until you can receive professional medical attention.
Within weeks, you may be able to walk, but you shouldn’t participate in extreme sports. Thankfully, with advances in medicine, the recovery time for an ACL tear has been reduced to six to nine months.
Near your knee joint is a sac called the bursa, and it can become inflamed when participating in extreme sports. When this happens, it’s known as bursitis and it can be extremely painful.
Rock climbers especially are prone to bursitis due to the sustained pressure and overuse, so it’s important to take breaks no matter what sports you’re participating in.
In some severe cases, bursitis may require surgery, but that won’t be the case for most people who will be able to be fine with some rest and over the counter medication. In more minor cases, knee bursitis will go away after a week or two, though it can linger around for up to two months for some people.
For those that are participating in extreme sports on a near daily basis but haven’t suffered any direct trauma, you might still be feeling a severe pain in your knees. Some chalk it up to simple overuse, but the root problem could be patellar tendonitis.
When this happens, the pain can be so bad that you can’t even walk, let alone participate in sports. If your knee becomes swollen and red, it’s time to visit the doctor.
After confirming tendonitis through a knee MRI, a doctor is likely to prescribe some pain relievers while also offering up physical therapy.
In very few cases will surgery actually be required, and tendonitis unfortunately is something that will likely come back again if you’ve had it before. It isn’t fun, but the pain outweighs the severity of tendonitis.
Another one of those injuries that it seems every extreme athlete seems to suffer at least once in their lives is a tear to their meniscus. If you’re a skateboarder or dirt bike racer, you’re probably nodding your head right now.
The meniscus is the cartilage located in your knee that cushions the bone, and it can be easily torn from trauma or simply twisting in the wrong direction.
For some people, the pain isn’t too severe, but the clicking noises and knee locking up are surefire signs of injury. Meniscus tears often require the use of a knee brace and plenty of rest, and in some cases, surgery will be necessary.
This injury is a lengthy one, too, with recovery time taking anywhere from three to six months. There are many more minor knee injuries to look out for, but these are the major ones that are most common in extreme sports.