10 Knee Injuries From Falling on Concrete
Concrete is a remarkably useful and ubiquitous construction material. Now, it appears increasingly in the form of home furnishings, like sinks and tables.
But when you fall on concrete and hurt your knee, the material seems like nothing less than a dangerous surface that has caused you pain. You might even end up being incapacitated or needing surgical treatment because of falling on concrete.
So let's find out about the types of knee injuries from falling on concrete, how you can avoid them, and how to deal with them if and when they occur.
Here, we'll discuss ten different knee injuries (from falls on concrete or other causes). Some knee injuries are minor; others are severe. But any of them can worsen if not cared for properly.
Anatomy of the Human Knee
Since this article refers to the various parts of the knee, we want to begin with a brief overview of its anatomy. The knee is where four different bones and their connected ligaments and tendons are joined. These consist of the:
- The femur (hipbone)
- The patella (kneecap)
- The fibula and tibia (lower leg bones)
- The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- The medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- The lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
- The medial meniscus
- The lateral meniscus
Note that the menisci are pieces of cartilage to cushion the area between the femur and the tibia.
Ten Knee Injuries From Falling on Concrete
"I tripped and fell on my knee, landing on concrete—am I hurt?"
We're glad you asked this question. Even though the knee is a strong joint, knee injuries from falling on concrete can be very disabling throughout the healing process and beyond. The following sections explain the injuries most common to the knee.
1. An Abrasion
Virtually everyone has had a knee abrasion at some point—usually from concrete.
These injuries are sometimes called "scraped" or "skinned" knees. And, while they're painful and messy, they're superficial wounds that usually form a big scab and eventually heal by themselves.
Most knee abrasions are minor wounds. However, they need to be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water, and an over-the-counter disinfectant should also be applied. Keep an eye on the injury, and call the doctor if any problems arise.
2. A Laceration
Lacerations are a step beyond abrasions. A laceration is a cut in the skin that's often caused by blunt trauma. Smaller lacerations can get treatment at home with cleaning and bandaging. But a more profound tear might need professional suturing.
A doctor needs to treat the more severe lacerations. And a very deep laceration—one that penetrates the fat or muscle layers—can cause long-term tendon or nerve damage. In this case, the injury likely will require extended medical follow-up.
3. A Contusion
A contusion (better known as a bruise) might accompany other injuries from a hard fall on the knee. Contusions occur when a damaged capillary or blood vessel leaks into the area around it, often leading to skin discoloration.
Often, a scraped knee will also show bruising since concrete scrapes the knee but whacks it hard, too. Bruises come from blood beneath the skin's surface, so it's fair to say that a scraped knee probably needs to be taken more seriously than it is.
Contusions can happen to both muscles and bones—although muscle contusions are more common and more visible. Bone contusions lie far beneath the skin and are characterized by:
- Joint stiffness
- Swelling of the area
- Tenderness near the contusion
- Difficulty bending or using the affected area
- Pain that outlasts that of a superficial bruise
Although muscle bruises tend to run their course over days and with few or no complications, bone bruises take longer to heal. Bed rest with elevation and ice packs can help.
4. A Strain or Mild Sprain
A muscle strain occurs when a muscle or the tendon attaching it to a bone has been overstretched or slightly torn. Such injuries might result from either repetitive movement or a one-time injury like an unnatural twisting of the joint. Strains are often confused with sprains.
The difference between sprains and strains is that the former involves a ligament (which connects bones), and the latter affects a tendon (which connects muscle to bone). A mild strain typically involves a slightly torn ligament. Sprains happen when joints are contorted by force.
5. A Torn Meniscus
A meniscus is soft, rubbery knee cartilage that cushions the femur and tibia from rubbing against each other. Each knee has two menisci, one on either side. A torn meniscus is a common injury that happens when a knee is forcefully twisted or rotated.
Athletes especially suffer from torn menisci—especially those whose sports involve hard concrete surfaces. A meniscus tear can lead to or worsen arthritis if not treated in the early stages.
When treating a torn meniscus, a doctor might start by recommending rest, ice, or over-the-counter pain medication.
If that treatment doesn't resolve the injury, though, the next steps might be physical therapy and/or arthroscopic meniscus surgery.
Older adults with persistent arthritis or persistent meniscus-related concerns might eventually turn to a knee replacement procedure to help rid themselves of some of the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis.
6. A Tendon Tear
A direct impact to the front of the knee from falling or another type of impact is a common cause of tendon tears. The knee-area tendon that is most affected by tearing is the patellar tendon.
This tendon plays an essential part in the lower leg's extensor mechanism. It involves the quadriceps muscle, quadriceps tendon, the patella, and the patellar tendon. All of these body parts work together to help the knee bend and straighten.
A torn patellar tendon won't heal well without medical intervention. If neglected, this type of injury might weaken the quadriceps muscle. Moreover, even though surgery to fix a torn tendon is relatively simple, it can be challenging, all the same.
Patellar tendon surgeries often involve badly damaged tendons that are hard to reconnect in a way that restores them to full function. The tendon might need to be connected directly to the bone instead of the remaining tendon tissue.
7. A Torn Ligament
With all the ligaments in and around the knee, it's no surprise that so many people experience ligament tears. Although a torn ligament in the knee won't prevent a person from walking, it's a severe injury, nonetheless.
ACL tears are especially common—and problematic—for athletes because of the kinds of body movements that often lead to injury. And while ACL tears are not usually associated with falling on concrete, that sort of accident can and does happen.
For instance, what if a runner were to trip and fall on a road? What if a tennis player were to land on their knee on a paved court?
Knee ligament injuries are diagnosed in three ways:
Treating knee ligament injuries, especially ACL injuries, can require a complicated surgical procedure and a prolonged recovery period. The surgery's type and extent depend on factors like age, the severity of the injury, and expected healing time.
8. A Patellar Dislocation
Unlike ligament damage, damage to the patella (kneecap) is a common injury to have with a hard fall on the knee—as would be the case with falling on concrete. During this or a similar type of fall, the patella might be dislocated, either partially or entirely.
When this occurs, the patella is dislodged from the trochlear groove (an indentation that holds the patella in place). After that, it might relocate to the outside of the knee. The "straying" patella might have to be reduced by a doctor to head off further complications.
The doctor performs the reduction by gently straightening the knee and pushing the patella sideways. Afterward, the patient needs to wear an immobilizer or hinged knee brace to keep the knee extended. Thus, it's protected from becoming dislocated again while healing.
9. A Fractured Patella
Did you know that climbing stairs and squatting can put as much as seven times your body weight on the patella and the joint behind it? Did you know that a kneecap is not required for you to walk or bend your leg?
The patella makes your muscles more efficient, however, and a dislocated patella can be painful. The patella also absorbs a lot of the stress between the upper and lower parts of the leg. So it does have a significant role.
Many fractured kneecaps happen because of being hit directly on the front of the leg. This might include a situation where you fell on your knee cap on a concrete surface.
So if your knee pain after a fall on concrete gets worse or it's hard to bend the knee after falling, you should see a doctor.
10. An Infection
As you have seen throughout this section, knee injuries from falling on concrete and other reasons run the gamut from a simple knee scrape to a badly fractured patella.
Although most of these injuries affect body parts beyond just the knee, the knee is particularly vulnerable due to factors like:
- Its weight-bearing purpose
- Its frequent use
- Its structure and composition.
We would be remiss, though, if we ended this section without mentioning infection as another problem related to knee injuries from falling on concrete.
As we mentioned earlier, most concrete surfaces are filled with dirt, sand, and other infection-causing materials that, if they were to enter a wound like a scraped or lacerated knee. Without (and sometimes even with) sufficient cleaning, an infection can set in.
And once the pathogens are inside your body, there's no telling what other parts they might also invade.
Yes, the knee is a robust joint. But it's also one of the first body parts to strike the concrete street, sidewalk, or playground in the event of a fall by the person to whom it is attached.
Protecting the Knees
A large part of protecting your knees means taking care of your health overall—in other words, taking care of yourself.
Many knee injuries result from sports and recreational activities. Not surprisingly, quite a few of these involve concrete or other hard surfaces. You often see recreational runners wearing knee braces—no doubt for both support and protection in a fall.
One sport that can be especially rough on the knees is rollerblading on concrete sidewalks and parking lots. If you enjoy rollerblading, be sure you always wear knee pads, along with other safety gear.
Even diet and regular exercise help keep your knees in good condition. So do the simple act of paying attention to your body movements and looking out for obstacles in your path.
What About Concrete as a Ubiquitous Construction Material?
Concrete certainly has its benefits and drawbacks. Studies have shown that this material puts wear and tear on our joints. What's more, concrete manufacturing creates dust that is dangerous to breathe.
On top of this, concrete often covers some of the most fertile and naturally beautiful parts of our planet. Would it be a stretch to say that using less concrete would benefit many people—including those injured by falling on it?
Our Products Help
When you think of knee injuries from falling on concrete or other types of joint injuries, you must wonder what products are available today to ease strain and discomfort. After all, our joints routinely carry the weight of our bodies.
They do more than that, too. Our joints help us walk and run, bend and lift, and perform any small or large tasks that might be needed. And we give them so little rest—we even use them to toss and turn while sleeping.
We invite you to look through our extensive selection of joint support and protection products. And please reach out to us at PowerRebound if you have any questions about what you see.