The femur, or thighbone, is the longest and largest bone in the human body. At its top, it helps create the ball-and-socket joint of the hip; its lower end helps create the knee joint. The second largest bone in body is the tibia, also called the shinbone. This long bone connects with the knee at one end and the ankle at the other. Next to the tibia is the fibula, the thinner, weaker bone of the lower leg. It is also known as the calf bone, as it sits slightly behind the tibia on the outside of the leg. The fibula is connected via ligaments to the two ends of the tibia. The patella, commonly known as the kneecap, is at the center of the knee. It aids in knee extension and protects the joint. As the knee bends, the patella slides along a groove in the femur.
A broken leg may require surgery to implant fixation devices, such as wires, plates, nails, rods or screws into the broken bone. This can help maintain proper alignment during healing. However, less invasive forms of treatment may be pursued depending on the circumstances. Some breaks can be treated through a process called “reduction,” where a doctor manipulates the broken pieces of bone back into their proper position. In other cases, a break may be immobilized with a cast and brace until the broken bone properly heals.
Knee injuries can occur in several different ways in car accidents, depending on the nature of the crash, such as a side-impact, rear-ender, or rollover. The knee can strike the dashboard, window, or any interior part of the vehicle (such as the roof in a rollover) resulting in a direct blow to the knee, or an injury to the knee caused by twisting or hyperextension of the leg. Knee pain can arise from the knee itself, or be referred from problems with the lower back, hip or ankle.
Common knee injuries after a car accident may involve Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear; Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) tear; Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) tear; Lateral Meniscus tear; Medial Meniscus tear; or Tibial Plateau fracture.
The ACL is an important ligament that stabilizes your knee in an extended position. An ACL tear can result when your leg is hyperextended. Symptoms of an ACL injury may include a popping sound, swelling, and knee joint instability. Treatment of an ACL injury depends on the severity of the tear, and may range from several months of rehabilitation (small tear) to reconstructive surgery (severe tear).
The PCL is a strong ligament in the back of the knee that is required for posterior knee stability. When a knee strikes a dashboard hard, the force may be hard enough to cause a PCL tear. Symptoms of a PCL injury may include knee tenderness, swelling, pain, and knee joint instability. Treatment of a PCL tear will range from physical therapy to reconstructive surgery depending on your age and level of physical activity. You may require surgery if you are an athlete, or more conservative treatment such as a knee cast or braces.
The MCL is a ligament that is required for stability by preventing over-widening of the inside of the knee joint. Symptoms of an MCL injury may include pain, swelling and keen joint instability. Treatment of an MCL injury will usually involve rest, bracing, and physical therapy. Surgery may be required in certain cases.
Since drivers are thrown about during a car accident, injuries to the knee are one of the most common kinds of injuries that can occur. During the crash, your knees may run rather forcibly into your car’s dashboard. This impact can cause injuries by breaking, stretching, and twisting the cartilage and ligaments of the knee.