4 Ways to Diagnose a Knee Injury

In soccer, strains and sprains about the knee occur with alarming frequency.

Distinguishing between injuries that are significant and those that are not is often challenging. Even in the hands of the most skilled practitioners mistakes can be and have been made.

More common are the mistakes made by those who actually suffer knee injuries. Believing their injury to be just a sprain thousands of Americans forego medical evaluation hoping instead that time will heal their wounds.

For many players, time accompanied by rest, will yield the desired result. Others will be less fortunate.

Their continued pain and disability will ultimately bring them to medical care. Unfortunately, the delay in accessing this care delays the delivery of appropriate treatment, thereby delaying the resolution of the problem.

In a perfect world, such delays would never occur. We would know instinctively when our injuries required medical attention.

Sadly, as it pertains to injury, our instincts are not nearly so well developed. Instead, we must rely on our intellect. Doing so requires us to be aware of the warning signs of significant knee injury. In the form of questions those signs follow:

  1. Did you hear, feel or sense a pop or snap at the time of injury?
  2. Did the knee swell significantly following the injury (within 24 hours)?
  3. Since the injury, does the knee lock or catch?
  4. Since the injury, does the knee give way when walking, running or climbing stairs?

Although it is impossible to know the nature and extent of injury by these signs alone, their presence argues strongly in favor of medical consultation.

Do not ignore these red flags. If you answered yes to one or more of these questions I would encourage you to seek out a sports orthopedist in your area.


Bruce Morgan has been the trainer for the San Jose Earthquakes for five years. He is in charge of injury prevention and rehabilitation as well as nutrition and strength and conditioning.

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