Common knee injuries and treatment programs

Dr. Thieken is a fellowship-trained surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic surgery for knee injuries and conditions. The following are the most common injuries that Dr. Thieken treats in his practice. Learn more about common sports injuries and symptoms and injury prevention.

ACL Tears

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are relatively common type of injury in sports. When the ACL is torn, the patient/athlete must decide whether to let it remain torn or have surgery to repair it and relieve pain. Both choices are acceptable ones, depending on the particular desires and expectations of the patient. 

In most cases, the ACL is completely torn (ruptured). Partial tears do occur but are rarer. When the ACL is completely torn, the ends are pulled away from each other; so spontaneous healing is not possible. The unattached ends usually atrophy and turn into scar tissue. Therefore, the patient must make a choice about what to do: 1) Have the ligament surgically reconstructed; or 2) Try to live without an ACL.

Learn more about ACL reconstruction, returning to sports after an ACL tear and what to expect during rehabilitation.


Meniscus Tear

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries among athletes; however, anyone can tear their meniscus. Meniscal tears are sometimes referred to as torn cartilage in the knee and most often occur if you play sports, but can occur during many activities. When an athlete squats and twists the knee, this can cause a tear. The same moment can also cause a tear during daily activities in any individual.

Treatment depends on the severity of your injury. If your tear is small and does not cause symptoms or knee pain, surgery may not be necessary. Physical therapy may be an option. If your symptoms persist with non-surgical treatment, surgery may be needed.

Learn more about meniscus tear reconstruction, returning to sports after a meniscus tear and what to expect during rehabilitation.


MCL Injury

An MCL injury is a sprain or tears to the medial collateral ligament. The MCL is typically injured during activities that involve bending, twisting or a quick change of direction. Football, soccer, skiing and other sports with a lot of sudden stopping, jumping or weaving are prone to MCL sprains or MCL tears. A blow to the outside part of the knee may also injure the MCL.

Sometimes crutches or a brace that protects movement in the knee is necessary during the healing process. Sometimes a severe tear may require surgery; however, this is not common unless you also injure other parts of your knee such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or meniscus.

Learn more about MCL injuries, returning to sports after a meniscus tear and what to expect during rehabilitation.


PCL Injury

The posterior cruciate ligament is located in the back of the knee. It is one of several ligaments that connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone).

A posterior cruciate ligament injury typically requires a powerful force. Such as a direct blow to the front of the knee.

If you have only injured your posterior cruciate ligament, in most cases you won’t need surgery and can follow a rehab program to get your normal back. If you have other ligament injuries in addition to your posterior cruciate ligament injury, you may need surgery.