In this article, I will discuss the five common BJJ knee injuries, from the most severe to the least severe, and how to treat them.

Knee injuries are common in BJJ, with the knee being one of the most frequently injured body parts. 

They can range from mild to severe, and can significantly impact a practitioner's training and performance. 

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BJJ Knee injuries: ACL tear

What is an ACL tear?

An ACL tear is the most severe of all BJJ knee injuries.

The ACL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee that provides stability to the joint. 

An ACL tear can be a partial or complete tear of the ligament.

It can be caused by a sudden twisting motion or direct impact to the knee.

The ACL basically connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and helps prevent the knee from rotating or moving too far forward or backward.

So, you can imagine why the ACL tear is the most severe and the most feared among BJJ athletes.

How to treat an ACL tear injury?

Treatment for an ACL tear depends on the severity of the injury. 

A partial tear may be treated with rest, ice, compression, and physical therapy.

However, a complete tear may require surgery to reconstruct the ligament.

ACL reconstruction surgery involves replacing the torn ligament with a graft, which can be taken from the patient's own body or a donor. 

The surgery is typically done arthroscopically, which involves making small incisions in the knee and using a camera to guide the surgery.

Estimated recovery period for an ACL tear injury

The recovery period for an ACL tear can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment. 

Recovery from surgery can take several months, and physical therapy is usually required to help regain strength and range of motion in the knee.

In general, the estimated recovery period for an ACL tear is as follows:

Partial tear: 2-4 weeks of rest and physical therapy
Complete tear without surgery: 6-9 months of rest and physical therapy
Complete tear with surgery: 6-12 months of rest and physical therapy

It is important to follow a rehabilitation program prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist to ensure a full recovery and prevent future knee injuries.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear

BJJ Knee injuries: MCL Tear

What is an MCL tear?

An MCL tear is a common BJJ knee injury that occurs when the medial collateral ligament, which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone along the inside of the knee, is stretched or torn. 

This type of injury is often caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee, a sudden twisting motion, or a hit to the knee while it is bent.

Symptoms of an MCL tear include pain and tenderness along the inside of the knee, swelling, and instability or a feeling of the knee giving way. 

In more severe cases, there may be bruising and difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg.

How to treat an MCL tear?

The treatment for an MCL tear depends on the severity of the injury.

For mild tears, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) can help reduce swelling and pain.

A knee brace may also be recommended to provide support and stability while the ligament heals.

For more severe tears, physical therapy may be necessary to help restore strength and range of motion to the knee.

In some cases, surgery may be required to repair or reconstruct the damaged ligament.

Estimated recovery period for an MCL tear injury

Like the ACL tear injury, the recovery period for an MCL tear can vary depending on the severity of the injury.

Grade 1 (mild) MCL tear: between one and three weeks to heal
Grade 2 (moderate) MCL tear: between four and six weeks with treatment
Grade 3 (severe) MCL tear: More than six weeks

During the recovery period, it is important to rest the affected knee and avoid activities that could further damage the ligament.

Meniscus Tear

BJJ knee injuries: meniscus tear.

What is a meniscus tear?

Each knee has two C-shaped pieces of cartilage called menisci that act as a cushion between the shinbone and thighbone.

A meniscus tear occurs when the cartilage is damaged or torn due to a sudden twist or rotation of the knee.

This injury can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation in the knee.

How to treat a meniscus tear?

In some cases, the tear may heal on its own with rest and rehabilitation exercises.

However, more severe tears may require surgery to repair or remove the damaged cartilage.

In the initial stages of the injury, the RICE method can be used to reduce pain and swelling.

Anti-inflammatory medication can also be used to reduce inflammation and pain.

Rehabilitation exercises, such as stretching and strengthening exercises, can help to improve knee function and prevent further injury.

Physical therapy may also help with rehabilitation.

Estimated recovery period for a meniscus tear

In mild cases, rest and rehabilitation exercises may be enough to heal the injury, and the individual may be able to return to BJJ within a few weeks.

However, in more severe cases where surgery is required, the rest period may be longer.

The individual may need to take several weeks or months off from BJJ to allow the knee to heal properly.

It is important for individuals to listen to their body and not rush their return to BJJ.

Returning to training too soon can lead to further injury and prolong the recovery period.

Patellar Tendinitis

BJJ knee injury: Patellar Tendinitis

What is patellar tendinitis?

Patellar tendinitis is a common knee injury that occurs when the patellar tendon becomes inflamed or irritated.

It is most commonly caused by repetitive jumping or running activities, but can also be caused by sudden changes in activity levels or wearing improper footwear.

In BJJ, patellar tendinitis can occur due to the repetitive stress placed on the knees during training.

Symptoms of patellar tendinitis include pain and tenderness around the patellar tendon, swelling, and stiffness in the knee.

In severe cases, the tendon may even rupture.

How to treat a patellar tendinitis injury?

Treatment for patellar tendinitis usually involves the RICE method.

This can help reduce inflammation and pain in the knee.

Additionally, physical therapy exercises may strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve flexibility.

In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to help reduce pain and inflammation.

For more severe injury, corticosteroid injections may help to further reduce inflammation and pain.

Estimated recovery period for a patellar tendinitis injury

Mild cases of patellar tendinitis can often be treated with rest and physical therapy exercises, and may heal within a few weeks.

However, more severe cases of patellar tendinitis may require a longer recovery period of several months or even up to a year.

During this time, it is important to avoid activities that may aggravate the injury and to follow a rehabilitation program prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Knee Contusion

What is a knee contusion?

A knee contusion is the least severe knee injury in BJJ that occurs when the knee is hit or banged against a hard surface.

It is also known as a bruised knee.

The injury causes bleeding in the soft tissues around the knee, leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness.

How to treat a knee contusion injury?

The most common treatment method for knee contusions is the RICE protocol.

In addition to the RICE protocol, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

However, it is important to consult a doctor before taking any medication.

Estimated recovery period for a knee contusion injury

Mild contusions may heal within a few days, while more severe contusions may take weeks or even months to heal completely.

During the recovery period, it is important to avoid activities that may aggravate the injury, such as intense rolling or sparring.

Gradual return to activity and 100% BJJ training intensity is best.

To wrap it up....

It is important as a BJJ practitioner to understand the different types of BJJ knee injuries and their severity levels to ensure proper treatment and recovery.

Prevention is key in avoiding knee injuries, and practitioners should take the necessary precautions such as warming up properly, using proper techniques, and tapping out early.

If, for whatever reason, an injury occurs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately to prevent further damage.

It is also important to note that returning to training too soon after an injury can lead to further damage and prolong recovery time.

BJJ practitioners should listen to their bodies and only return to training when they have fully recovered from their injuries.

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