Knee injuries can be serious trouble for athletes, especially young athletes who have dreams of a career in professional sports. Some knee injuries can hurt an athlete for life, which is why prevention of knee injuries is one of the best steps athletes can take to keep themselves in the game. Some of the most common types of knee injuries include:

Sprains: The stretching or tearing of a ligament. A severe sprain can be as bad as a complete tear of one or more ligaments. Symptoms of a sprain include a “popping” sound at the time of injury, pain from within the knee, swelling, feeling as though a knee is going to “give way”, or buckle under the full weight of the person’s body.

Strains: A strain describes the stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. Symptoms of a strain are similar to those of a sprain and include bruising around the injured knee.

Tendinitis: The inflammation or irritation of a tendon normally caused by overuse. Pain and tenderness to the knee are common symptoms of tendinitis.

Meniscus Tears: Common in sports that require sudden changes in speed, this type of injury usually accompanies severe sprains. Tenderness and swelling are likely to be experienced after a tear.

Dislocations: The kneecap can become dislocated from the knee if struck with the right amount of force. The knee cap may or may not return to its original location without the intervention of a doctor, but it’s always best to have a possible dislocation examined professionally.

Fractures: A crack or break in the bones of the knee.

With so many risks to the knees, it might seem impossible to plan for and prevent every type of injury, but in reality, proper conditioning and training techniques can greatly reduce the risk of knee injuries by strengthening the knees and the parts of the leg around them.

To reduce the risk of knee injuries, remember to always warm up and cool down properly before starting any physical activity. It is better to work up slowly to a physical activity so that your body has time to adjust to the task at hand. Think of the parts of the knee as the breaking system on a car. To prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the breaking system, care should be taken to keep stops smooth and controlled, as opposed to sudden and sharp.

Athletes who only play one sport should remember to stay active in their off time, even if they don’t train as hard as they would during active seasons. Keeping physical activity a year round event will maintain balance, coordination, muscle, and strength. When any of these begin to suffer or deteriorate, physical injuries become more likely.

Part of the problem with treating athletic injuries, especially for parents who are raising athletes, is dealing with the athlete’s ego. Many injuries are made worse because of an athlete’s inability to recognize their own limits. Athletes should be encouraged to report any persistent pain they feel to their doctors so that more serious injuries can be prevented. By teaching the athlete to recognize potential injuries on their own, they will be more likely to take fewer unnecessary risks with their athletic futures.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Gina Rosenfeld is a San Diego Pediatrician who has been in practice for 35 years. He is also a member of Children's Physicians Medical Group.