Dec 29, 2010

What is Knee Ligament Damage?

Leading orthopaedic surgeon Simon Moyes explains what knee ligament damage is and how best to treat it.

Leading orthopaedic surgeon Simon Moyes explains what knee ligament damage is and how best to treat it.

The knee is the largest and most injury-prone joint in the body.

knee ligament damage

It is made up of the thighbone (femur), the shinbone (tibia) and the kneecap (patella). The whole joint is stabilised by ligaments and tendons, which are attached to the bones. Rubbery cartilage provides cushioning and shock absorption, while hard, slippery cartilage enables smooth movement.

Ligament damage is one the most common injuries that can affect the knee. There are four ligaments in the knee:

  • medial collateral ligament (MCL): stabilises side-to-side movement
  • lateral collateral ligament (LCL): stabilises side-to-side movement.
  • anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): limits the knee’s forward movement
  • posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): limits backward movement of the joint

Damage to the ligaments can be easily caused by a blow to the knee, twisting, pivoting, sudden change of direction or landing from a jump.

Patients with ligament damage will typically notice swelling around the knee within approximately three hours of sustaining the injury. You will also experience difficulty walking or straightening your knee, in addition to pain on movement.

To assess the injury, your surgeon will carry out a series of stress tests and evaluate the mechanics of the knee. In order to rule out other damage to the joint, an X-Ray may be taken, while an MRI scan will identify the presence and extent of the tear.

The most common knee ligament injury is tearing of the ACL. Around 250,000 of these injuries occur per annum in the US.

This ligament, once torn, does not heal itself and therefore usually requires surgical reconstruction.

The most common versions of this are taking grafts from your patella tendon or hamstring. This process will re stabilise your knee, reduce risk of further injuries and future arthritis. Donor grafts from someone else are also used.

After ACL reconstruction, you will need to do a rehabilitation programme to restore range of movement and strength. You will need to avoid contact sports for approximately six months after surgery.

Simon Moyes is an internationally renowned orthopaedic surgeon. His Capital Orthopaedics team works at Basinghall Clinic in London, with its state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical equipment, and top sports medicine professionals. Contact Simon Moyes for an expert diagnosis and treatment of knee injuries.

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