What are Knee Ligament Injuries?
The Knee has many supporting ligaments surrounding the joint that is important for movement and is at risk of injury when playing sports.
Knee Ligament Injuries are pulls, tears or strains of the:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
- And/or Multiple Ligaments
What causes Knee Ligament Injuries?
Sport injuries and accidents are common causes of Knee Ligament Injuries.
Twisting, jumping, leg rotation using poor techniques or where contact is made can cause partial or full thickness tears in the surrounding ligaments. The type of movement that took place when the injury occurred will signify the location of the ligament injury.
Symptoms range from a noise heard from the knee when injured, pain, inability to weight bear and instability in the joint, swelling and bruising.
How are Knee Ligament Injuries diagnosed?
Consultation, X-rays and MRI will also be needed for a diagnosis.
Treatment and recovery
Conservative management is considered when the ligaments have been injured however will heal without surgery. Our knee team will assess with medical examination to identify the range of movement to consider non-operative treatment. Initial recovery phase advised is rest, ice, compression and elevation to help reduce the swelling and pain. Physiotherapy will be needed to improve movement and strength of the knee. Recovery period can range between 6-12 weeks.
Surgery – All knee ligament repairs are usually performed as a knee arthroscopy. This procedure involves small incisions to insert a telescope and long instruments into the knee joint which reduces risk of infection and recovery time. During a knee arthroscopy, the torn ligaments are assessed, repaired and damaged tissue or debris is removed from the joint. Recovery period ranges between patients and complexity of the surgery, however most arthroscopic surgery can be a day case procedure. Physiotherapy is also part of the recovery and patients are usually weight bearing at 6 weeks, 12 weeks back to usual activity and at 6 months playing sports again.
ACL reconstruction involves arthroscopic techniques and a graft to reconstruct the torn ligament. This graft may be taken from the patient’s tendon either from the hamstring or kneecap (autograft) or donated from another person’s tissue (allograft). Small incisions are made to access, remove and replace the torn ligament with the graft. Recovery with this procedure is gradual for those wishing to play sport again. Physiotherapy rehabilitation plays and important role to assess and improve range of motion for the joint and strengthen the surrounding muscles to support the knee. Patients should be weight bearing from 2-4 weeks, returning to normal daily duties and light exercise between 3-6 months. For contact sports recovery may take longer, however our knee team and allied physiotherapists will advise on your progress.