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Does My Knee Injury Require Surgery?

Knee injuries can range from mild sprains to career-ending accidents. Luckily, medical technology has progressed to the point where surgery can save athletes from permanent disability and put them on the road to full recovery. However, it can be difficult to tell if an injury requires surgery, especially if you don’t know exactly what happened inside the joint. This is when an expert evaluation is necessary. 

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine in San Francisco, California, Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht and his experienced team evaluate knee injuries and can let you know if you need arthroscopic knee surgery or even a partial knee replacement

Different types of knee injuries 

There are four main types of knee injuries. These might require professional diagnosis and surgery if the injury is severe enough. 

1. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries

Your anterior cruciate ligament is located deep within the knee, and it’s responsible for most of your forward movement. Most ACL injuries occur due to a sudden hyperextension or twisting of the joint, and might be accompanied by a “pop,” severe pain, and instability. 

With proper treatment, nearly 90% of athletes are able to return to their previous performance levels. ACL surgery is highly specialized, and Dr. Halbrecht performs ACL restoration arthroscopically through a small incision. 

2. Meniscus injuries 

The meniscus is a disc of cartilage responsible for shock absorption in the knee. Repetitive impacts and twisting motions can result in a meniscus tear. Like most cartilage injuries, the meniscus does not heal easily and usually requires some form of medical intervention — often including surgery. Dr. Halbrecht can use a meniscal allograft to replace damaged portions of your meniscus.   

3. Articular cartilage injuries

The articular cartilage is located on the surface of the knee joint. This cartilage may become damaged after trauma (mechanical destruction) or general wear-and-tear (mechanical degeneration). 

Like meniscus injuries, the articular cartilage rarely heals on its own and often requires intervention, in this case chondrocyte implantation. Dr. Halbrecht performs cartilage transplantation, using a treatment that involves cloning the cartilage cells and implanting them back into the knee. 90% of athletes are able to return to their sport after the new cartilage matures. 

4. Patella injuries 

The patella is a unique, “floating” bone within the knee. Many running and jumping athletes experience chondromalacia of the patella, which is the degeneration of cartilage below the patella bone. This manifests as pain in the front of the knee, a “crunching” feeling, swelling, and difficulty climbing stairs. Dr. Halbrecht, a skilled knee surgeon in San Francisco, can perform patella realignment using an arthroscopic procedure.

To get a proper diagnosis of your knee injury by a top orthopedic doctor in the Bay Area, and learn more about your options, get in touch with IASM. You can schedule a consultation by calling 415-233-7996, or book an appointment online

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