Did you know that there are four main ligaments in your knees that can be at risk for injury? Since the knee joint lacks any interlocking bones, it depends completely on these strong, fibrous connectors to stabilize the knee and facilitate movement. This makes the knees more vulnerable to injury than other joints.
As any veteran knee injury survivor can tell you, an insult to any one of these critical pieces of anatomy can make a serious dent in your daily activities. But with prompt and proper care, most knee ligament injuries can be resolved completely.
The four knee ligaments:
1. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): A short ligament that runs crosswise inside the knee joint from the front of the tibia to the back of the femur. Along with the PCL, it assists in stabilizing forward and backward movements of the two bones.
2. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): Runs opposite of the ACL and joins the back of the tibia and the front of the femur.
3. The medial collateral ligament (MCL): Supports the outside of the knee joint on the inside of the leg, between the femur and the tibia. With the LCL, it prevents side to side movements and offers extra stability in case of a sideward blow to the knee.
4. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL): Found outside of the knee on the outer side of the leg, joining the femur and fibula.
For minor injuries, such as bruises or sprains, OTC pain medication, ice packs, a knee brace, and rest should allow the knee to heal. However, if you experience severe pain, swelling, or loss of knee function, seek medical attention immediately.
Soft tissue injuries are generally diagnosed by MRI or ultrasound imaging.
How are ACL tears (and other ligament injuries) treated?
– Physical therapy
– Arthroscopic surgeries for scarring or partial tearing
– Full ligament replacement surgery for complete tears or intractable injuries. These sometimes incorporate transplanted cadaver ligaments.
Prevention outweighs the cure with knee injuries. Be sure to keep the muscles of the upper and lower leg strong and flexible, and address minor injuries before they become more serious.
Dealing with knee pain? We can help!
Our knee surgery specialist is highly experienced in surgical and non-surgical treatments for knee ligament tears and other injuries and will be happy to meet with you for an appointment to discuss your injury and help you find effective treatment. Contact us today.