There are a number of possibilities behind your basketball knee injury.

You live by the mantra to be active and stay healthy. Basketball is your game. You play in leagues year around – both indoor and outdoor. You have seen other unfortunate players suffer knee injuries but did not think too much about it – probably just bad luck for them. You have played for years and have never been nicked, never missed a game due to injury. Now you are that unfortunate player that was just assisted off the court with a basketball knee injury. You are here on the web, searching, trying to learn as much as you can about what may have happened to your knee. What comes next, what does it take to get you back out on the court?

You had an injury, you now are a basketball player with a knee injury and the following are several explanations as to what just happened to your injured knee and how Advanced Knee Care can get you back on the basketball court.



A basketball knee injury that causes the knee to twist or bend too far, are accompanied by a pop or two, hurt a lot, put you to the court, swell up fast, and result in stoppage of play to assist you off the field. This is almost always due to a complete tear of the ACL, the most important knee ligament. ACL tears are a major knee injury that should be evaluated within the week by an Orthopedic Surgeon (do not squander your effort or money with urgent care or ER).

Treatment For A Torn ACL anterior-cruciate-ligament knee doctors usually diagnose ACL tears based on history, physical exam and normal knee x-rays. Most often, the knee is not “too swollen” to examine. Physical findings in a knee with an acute ACL tear include large hemarthrosis, limited flexion and extension, positive lachman test (see image at right), and medial or lateral joint line tenderness. MRI scan (3T high resolution preferred) will confirm the tear and delineate associated injury such as lateral bone bruise, meniscal tear, and condition of the 3 other knee ligaments.

Initial treatment includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), crutches, +/- knee brace and exercises to regain full knee motion. If a knee is markedly swollen the blood is drained from the knee at the time of the first office visit to diminish knee pain. Aleve or Advil are advised. Sometimes narcotic pain pills are needed.

All athletes require surgical reconstruction of a torn ACL resulting from a basketball knee injury. Return to basketball is variable, usually 6 months to 1 year, sometimes with a protective knee brace. Here is a detailed surgical explanation on how we treat a torn ACL whether from a basketball knee injury or any other kind of knee injury.


Medial Collateral Ligament tear : A common sprain which causes knee pain from basketball is most often a sprain of the MCL. These basketball knee injuries heal in 4-8 weeks and do not require prolonged bracing or surgery. Self directed exercises or formal physical therapy is the cornerstone of treatment. This injury is treated at Urgent Care, Primary Care or an Orthopedic Surgeon. An MCL sprain occurs from a moderate, excessive twist or blow to the outside of the knee from another player. No pop, pain not severe, mild to no swelling, and often times players walk off the court on their own power. You may need to use crutches and a knee brace for a few days or possibly not and a physical exam will be mostly normal with tenderness localized over the ligament on the medial knee. X-ray is normal, MRI is optional or not needed. Return to basketball without limitations or residual and no brace is expected in 1-3 months, depending on severity of sprain.



Meniscal tears do not prevent a player from playing basketball but due to the knee pain with twisting or squatting and swelling of the knee with participation a player’s performance, speed and quickness will be compromised. Eventually a player tires of knee pain while playing basketball and visits a knee surgeon for arthroscopic surgery to fix the problem. For healthy basketball players under age 55 surgery is curative and return is 1-4 weeks without limitation or future knee problems.


What causes kneecap dislocation while playing basketball? This injury is the least common of the 4 basketball knee injuries detailed in this report. Kneecap (patella) dislocation, or patellar subluxation, occurs when the triangle-shaped bone covering the knee (patella) moves out of place. This is a common occurrence in young athletes, especially females.

Most commonly, the kneecap (patella) dislocates due to a twisting stress to the knee. However, the injury can also occur because of direct contact. If a foot is planted and then a sudden twisting movement or rapid change in direction occurs, the stress to the knee can cause the kneecap to shift out of place. For example, if a player suddenly changes directions, the force can lead to patellar subluxation or dislocation.

This injury should be treated by a knee surgeon. Treatment is highly variable dependent on many factors. Physical therapy, bracing, and surgery are all options depending on the frequency and severity of the problem. Successful treatment allows basketball players to return to the game.


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