Unfortunately, falls onto concrete can be quite common. Knee injuries of varying severity often occur with these falls. After you get past the initial pain, it becomes important to closely monitor your progress over the next few days. Persistent or worsening pain may indicate a much more severe injury.
The proper diagnosis and treatment is based on how the injury occurred. Generally, knee injuries suffered on concrete involve some kind of blunt force with direct contact of the knee with the concrete. These injuries can result in:
- Patella, or knee cap, fractures: can occur when the knee is bent at 90 degrees, forcing the knee cap to absorb the full force of your body weight.
- Dislocation of the knee cap: may occur from either direct contact or a twisting injury. This often results in visible movement of the knee cap to the outside of the knee and it may even become stuck.
- Thigh bone and/or Shin Bone Fractures: fractures of the tibial plateau (shin bone) or the femur (thigh bone) can occur with falls onto concrete. This most commonly occurs with falls from an elevated height, such as off a ladder or high step.
- Knee sprains: knee ligament injuries, or sprains, can occur with twisting injuries or when a force is applied to only one side of the knee. Most often, the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is the concern.
- Meniscus tears: this can occur during a sudden twist of the knee while it is bearing weight. There is often a sensation of the knee “giving out,” especially while carrying something heavy or if you are in an awkward position. The meniscus is made of cartilage and is the shock absorber of the knee, keeping your two leg bones from directly contacting each other.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries: ACL injuries are not common with a fall onto concrete, given they usually require extreme angles, extension or rotation of the joint.
Any of the above injuries can worsen over time. Serious knee injuries left untreated can lead to bone deformities, early onset of knee arthritis or even problems walking. If you suffered this injury during work activity, it is important to seek treatment quickly to ensure safe return to activity.
Signs of Serious Knee Injury
The following are recognized signs of a serious knee injury that should be evaluated by an orthopedic knee specialist:
- The knee has more than minor swelling.
- There is an obvious deformity.
- You can’t put weight on it or the knee buckles easily when you do.
- You can’t straighten the affected leg.
- You felt or heard a ‘pop’.
- Your knee feels loose and unnatural when you try to rotate or stress it.