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Treatment for knee injuries

We offer a range of tailored treatment options for knee injuries

Doctor performing an exam on a patient's leg as part of his knee injury treatment
Knee injuries occur when you experience damage to one or more of the tissues that make up your knee joint.

As the largest joint in your body, your knee moves like a hinge, allowing you to perform a variety of movements such as sitting, jumping, walking, and squatting. The anatomy of your knee is complex, making it vulnerable to a lot of injuries in different parts of the joint.

The anatomy of your knee

Your knee consists of three bones, which are:

  • Your femur - Also known as your upper leg bone, or thigh bone
  • Your tibia - The bone at the front of your lower leg, or shin bone
  • Your patella - A thick, triangular bone that sits over the other bones at the front of your knee - better known as your kneecap

The ends of your bones are protected with a layer of cartilage (a tough, flexible tissue found throughout your body) which acts as a powerful shock absorber, allowing your bones to easily glide against one another as they move. If you have a chronic joint condition such as arthritis, your cartilage breaks down (usually because of overuse), causing your joints to rub against one another, resulting in pain and reduced mobility.

Your knees also contain a network of ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones to bones. The ligaments in your knees hold your bones together and keep your knee stable, allowing for ease of movement and flexibility.

There are four main ligaments in your knee, which connect your thigh bone to your shin bone. Your cruciate ligaments cross each other to form an X, with your anterior cruciate ligament in the front of your knee, and the posterior cruciate ligament in the back of your knee. These control the front and back motion of your knee and are often torn and damaged when playing sports such as football and rugby. Then there are your collateral ligaments, with the medial collateral ligament keeping your inner knee stable and the lateral collateral ligament creating stability in your outer knee.

Your knee also contains tendons, which connect muscles to bone, helping prevent muscle injury by absorbing some of the impact your muscles are exposed to when you perform certain movements such as running and jumping.

Knee injuries often occur as a result of a direct blow to your knee, such as during contact sport like rugby. But they can also happen during an accident such as a fall, or a high impact car collision. Your knee can be damaged from an injury in a variety of ways and in a variety of places in your joint, including from a dislocation, sprain, or tear. No person experiences a knee injury in the same way, because every person has a different anatomy.

Living with knee pain can be immensely challenging. If left untreated, injured knees can become more damaged, resulting in osteoarthritis, which happens when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones breaks down, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. Bony growths can also develop, causing increased swelling and pain. If you overuse your joint after it has been injured, it won't heal properly, resulting in a breakdown of cartilage and a variety of distressing symptoms.

Living with knee pain can make simple everyday tasks like driving and walking to the shop feel impossible. It can even interfere with your ability to sleep and socialise, which is why getting treatment in the form of physiotherapy, medication, or even surgery, is extremely important.

Getting treatment with Circle Health Group

At Circle Health Group, your treatment will be led by an experienced orthopaedic consultant. They will take the time to understand your individual needs and build a tailored treatment plan to resolve your knee injury. This might include a combination of medication and physiotherapy, or surgery and physiotherapy - but there are lots of options.

To find out more about our services, call us on 0141 300 5009 or book your initial consultation online.

There are many different types of knee injuries with different causes. Some of the most common knee injuries we see at our hospitals are:


Fractures occur when part of the bone in your kneecap breaks. They make it extremely difficult to move or straighten your knee.

These are usually caused by high impact accidents such as falls or a vehicle collision. The most commonly fractured knee bone is your kneecap, because it acts as a shield that protects your knee joint, making it vulnerable to a fracture if you fall directly onto it.


A knee dislocation happens when your thigh bone and shin bone become separated. This separation can occur due to an accident or injury during sport. A patellar dislocation happens when your kneecap becomes separated from the front of your thigh bone. Both injuries can cause excruciating pain in your knee and leg, noticeable swelling, and sometimes deformity of your knee joint.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

This is most often caused by a sport-related incident. Your ACL can become torn and damaged due to a high-impact blow to your knee such as a rugby tackle, or if you twist your knee quickly while keeping your foot straight on the ground (this can happen when wearing studded football boots). A torn ACL can also lead to damage to other areas of your knee such as the articular cartilage, meniscus, or other ligaments. It can cause a loud 'popping sound', as well as intense pain and difficulty walking.

Meniscal tears

Your meniscus is an area of cartilage between your shinbone and thighbone. It acts as a shock absorber, protecting your tibia and femur from damage. Sometimes your meniscus can tear, which causes a 'popping' sensation and intense pain. Meniscal tears generally occur during an accident while playing sport or being active but can also be caused by arthritis or ageing. It's a very common injury and one we see all the time.

Tendon tears

In older people, tendon tears usually happen because of ageing or a joint condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. In younger people, they are more likely to happen due to an accident that occurs during sport. Like a meniscal tear, a torn tendon can be extremely painful and cause a 'popping' sound and sensation.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical advice to determine whether you might need treatment for your knee pain:

  • Severe pain when putting weight on your knee
  • An inability to put any weight on your knee at all
  • An inability to bend or straighten your knee
  • Swelling
  • Redness around your knee
  • Heat radiating from your knee
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Persistent pain that doesn't resolve with painkillers
  • Pain at night

Your consultant will examine your knee thoroughly and might carry out several tests, such as an X-ray or an MRI scan, to determine the extent of your injury and build your treatment plan accordingly. They will ensure you get the treatment you need, including aftercare such as follow-up physiotherapy appointments.

We offer a variety of non-surgical and surgical treatment options to treat knee injuries. Non-surgical treatment options include:

Knee injection therapy

Also known as steroid injection therapy, this treatment involves injections of steroid medication (corticosteroid) into your knee. This can effectively reduce pain and inflammation caused by an injury, helping it heal faster. The effects can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. This form of pain relief may be recommended if you can't take oral anti-inflammatories for any reason.

Oral anti-inflammatories

These can be prescribed either by your GP or by your consultant. They reduce swelling in your knee, which can lessen stiffness and pain. Your doctor might also recommend using heat therapy (in the form of icepacks or heat pads) to reduce swelling or numb your joint. Heat therapy can be used in addition to anti-inflammatory medication.


Physiotherapy for joint pain comprises a specialist exercise programme designed to strengthen the muscles around your joints, improving mobility and - in taking the pressure of your joints - reducing your pain. It can be a highly effective treatment and many people see amazing results. Physiotherapy can also be used in combination with surgical treatment to ensure you recover fully from an injury and to protect your knee from further injury due to underlying damage to your joint.

You will meet your physiotherapist for regular appointments at our hospital. They will get to know you and your individual circumstances, and they'll tailor your recovery programme so that it's bespoke to you. This plan will be made up of exercises to strengthen your knee muscles and improve your mobility and the range of motion in your knee. These exercises can accelerate your recovery from injury, or from surgery if you have had it.

Your physiotherapist will let you know how regularly you should do your exercises outside of your sessions, and they'll help you source any equipment you might need to help you do them. They'll also give you advice on how to incorporate exercise into your daily routine at home, so that your physiotherapy becomes a normal part of your day.

Knee operations at Circle Health Group are performed by orthopaedic consultant surgeons, who specialise in orthopaedic medicine. Orthopaedics is the medical specialty concerned with the treatment of injuries and disorders of your joints and their associated soft tissues. 'Associated soft tissues' means your ligaments, nerves and muscles. These components make up your musculoskeletal system, which helps to support your bodily functions, protect your skeletal muscles, and aid your movement.

Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery that concerns injuries and conditions of your musculoskeletal system. Surgical treatment options for knee injuries include:

ACL reconstruction surgery

ACL reconstruction surgery to repair a torn ACL can be carried out in a number of ways. The most common method involves removing and replacing your torn ligament with a replacement tendon. This replacement tendon, which is also known as a graft, is either taken from another part of your knee or from a donor. This procedure is performed using a technique called knee arthroscopy, which is also known as keyhole surgery, and is minimally invasive.

Cartilage repair surgery

This is performed to repair damage to your cartilage. There are several different types of cartilage repair operations. One procedure involves the implantation of an artificial scaffold, which is implanted to stimulate new cartilage to grow in your knee. The frame (which is made up of a combination of collagen and proteins) can stimulate new cartilage growth that absorbs into your existing cartilage. Another method is to replace the damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage found elsewhere in your body. This method is known as mosaicplasty.

Ligament repair surgery

Knee ligament repair surgery is a common procedure that typically takes between 60-90 minutes. Your surgeon will use a form of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy.

During the procedure, a small incision will be made in your knee. An arthroscope (a thin tube with a light and camera attached to it) will be inserted in your knee to perform the surgery. Your torn ligament will be removed and a replacement tendon, often taken from your kneecap, hamstring, or an organ donor, will be used to reconstruct the ligament. The incision in your knee will then be stitched together, and the replacement tendon will be held in place with specialist staples and stitches.

Knee replacement surgery

Knee replacement surgery is an operation to treat knee pain, caused by either an injury or a chronic condition. The procedure involves removing bits of your knee joint that have become damaged and replacing them with artificial elements, also known as implants or a prosthesis. This should remove the source of your pain, helping you to walk more easily and letting you get back to living life as normal.

Knee replacement surgery (also known as arthroplasty) is a treatment that's usually only recommended if your knee pain is very severe and is seriously reducing your quality of life.

Knee realignment surgery (osteotomy)

Knee realignment surgery involves several stages and takes place under a general anaesthetic. Using X-Rays taken before the operation, your consultant will assess the degree of realignment that needs to be undertaken. After these measures have been taken, your surgeon will use specialised instruments to carry out an opening wedge cut near the top of your tibia (your lower leg bone). They will then realign your knee's angle by levering the ends of your tibia together at the wedge of bone.

If you would like to learn more our range of treatment options for knee injuries, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in October 2022. Next review due October 2025.

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