Injury to the Knee in Extreme Sports

The complexity of the knee and its intense involvement, especially in extreme sports, makes it vulnerable to various types of injuries. From a stretched ligament to a meniscal injury, several frustrating injuries could affect your knee, significantly costing your playtime or career.

When experiencing discomfort in or around your knee, professionals at W-radiology can establish the cause and best treatment procedure through radiologic imaging. These are some of the common knee injuries in extreme sports.

Knee in Extreme Sports

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a condition that occurs when the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the knee joint become inflamed or torn. The ITB is a long band of fibrous tissue that runs from the outer part of the hip to the top of the thigh bone. It helps stabilize the knee joint during movement.

ITBS can result from an injury to one of these muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These injuries may occur during extreme sports such as running, cycling, skiing, and other activities that involve repetitive bending and twisting at high speeds.

Symptoms include pain in your inner thigh near your knee joint when you bend over or run-on uneven surfaces. You may also feel a pulling and clicking sensation around your knee.

Treatment depends on the cause of the injury and the severity of the symptoms. It may involve tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and or X-rays for a comprehensive diagnosis. Restoring strength to weak muscles with physical therapy can help relieve pain and improve movement in your legs.

Meniscal Injury

The meniscus is a crescent-shaped cartilage in the knee that functions as a shock absorber. Meniscus tears are a common injury in sports, especially in contact sports. It may happen when a downhill skier or snowboarder lands on their knee, and the cartilage in that area tears, causing pain and swelling.

Symptoms may include clicking and locking sensations, intermittent swelling, and pain in the lateral or medial side of the knee. A meniscus injury can be diagnosed by physical examination and imaging studies such as an MRI or x-ray. It takes months to recover but can be treated successfully with rest and physical. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the tear and how long it has been present.

Knee Ligament Injuries

Knee ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones at joints like the knee. Knee ligaments help to stabilize the knee joint and allow it to move smoothly through its range of motion. Ligament sprains and tears occur when an athlete twists the joint too quickly during a fall or impact.

The most common knee ligament injuries include torn Anterior Cruciate Ligaments (ACLs), Posterior Cruciate Ligaments (PCLs), Lateral Collateral Ligaments (LLC), and MCLs (medial collateral ligaments).

Some of the symptoms of knee ligament injuries include:

  • Feeling looseness around the knee joint
  • Blue-and-black coloration around the knee
  • Sudden and severe pain in the knee
  • Knee instability


The physician inspects the knee for tenderness and swelling through different knee movements, which can be uncomfortable. The recovery length depends on the injury’s severity and the injured ligaments. Most LCLs and MCLs do not require surgery and take less time to heal, but when sensitive ligaments like ACL and PCL are overstretched or torn, reconstructive surgery could be necessary.

Patellar Fracture

The patellar (knee cap) tendon is the thick, strong rope that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. If a patella fractures, it can cause severe pain and swell at or near the site where it was injured.

The injury is most commonly seen in extreme sports such as ski jumping, where athletes jump off cliffs or ramps and land on their knees. The impact force can tear the patellar tendon and cause permanent damage to the knee joint cartilage.


  • Extreme sports: jumping off a cliff or ramp with bad technique
  • Landing on one’s knee while skiing or snowboarding
  • Colliding with another skier, snowboarder, or cyclist at high speeds


  • Pain when touching the knee or bending it backward or forwards during activities such as lifting weights, walking, running, or cycling
  • Persistent pain after activity stops, especially if aggravated by movement
  • Swelling around the knee joint


Diagnosis is performed by analyzing the cause of the injury, physical examination, and radiology. Treatment may involve re-alignment of the fracture, use of assistive and protective devices such as crutches and plaster cast, or surgical repair.

Under proper management, the patient can recover fully within a few weeks and resume sports. However, if poorly habilitated, it can lead to advanced conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalacia, or post-traumatic arthritis.


Tendonitis is a condition caused by irritation or inflammation of one or more tendons that attaches muscle groups to bones. The most common tendon affected by tendonitis is the Achilles tendon. However, other tendons can also be affected by this condition.

Tendonitis is common in athletes who have repetitive movements that put a strain on their tendons over time.

Symptoms include pain and tenderness around the joint, swelling and redness at the affected site, and limited range of motion. It may also accompany warmth, redness, swelling, and inflammation around the joint.

In some cases, an MRI scan will reveal inflammation within the knee joint. Treatment of the injury involves physiotherapy and may also include prolonged rehabilitation.

Seek Help in Advance

Extreme sports are intense and can cause joint injuries, especially in the knees. While some may seem like minor discomforts that can go away on their own with a bit of stretching, they may signal a bigger problem, which could significantly affect your sports life. Whenever you experience any form of pain or discomfort in the knee area, it’s best to consult a physician for a detailed diagnosis and treatment.

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