Injuries of knee ligaments: What You Need To Know
What are the knee ligaments?
Knee ligaments connect thigh bones to the (lower) leg bones. The sudden extreme force applied on knee ligaments leads to their injuries. The anterior cruciate ligament is the most commonly injured knee ligament. It connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (also known as shin bone) and controls its rotation and forward movement. Other commonly injured knee ligaments include the posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and lateral collateral ligament. injuries of knee ligaments lead to severe.
What are the causes of a knee ligament injury?
Though ligaments are strong fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to bones, they can still be torn or sprained (stretched). The most common causes of the injuries of knee ligaments include:
- Sudden rotation or twisting of the knee
- Sudden stop or change in direction
- Awkward landing from a jump
- Direct impact or blow to the knee
- Traffic collision
Certain factors increase the likely hood of getting a knee ligament injury, such as:
- Being female
- Playing certain sports such as football and other athletic activities
- Faulty movement pattern (incoordination) and muscle weakness
- Poor conditioning
What the symptoms of a knee ligament injury?
Symptoms depend upon the severity of the ligament injury and may include:
- Sudden and severe pain
- Rapid swelling within the first twenty-four hours
- A popping or snapping sensation at the time of injury
- Reduced range of motion
- Inability to keep any activity or put weight on the joint
- Tenderness and looseness in the joint if the ligament is torn
How to make a diagnosis of a knee ligament injury?
Sprains are graded from 1 to three based on severity. A grade 1 sprain does not tear the ligament; a grade 2 sprain partially tears it, while a grade 3 sprain completely tears the ligament. Your doctor will make the diagnosis of a knee ligament injury based on the following:
- Symptoms such as pain, swelling, and tenderness
- Medical history to know about your activities, hobbies, or any recent accidents.
- Physical examination to check for the range of motion and looseness in the joint. Physical examination is often enough to make the diagnosis.
- Imaging tests such as X-rays to rule out bone fracture (and other conditions) and MRIs to check for the severity of the ligament injury. The doctor may also recommend an ultrasound to visualize internal knee structures.
- Ultrasound is best to see colateral ligaments, but MRI is best for cruciate ligaments.
What is the prognosis of a knee ligament injury?
It depends on the severity. If you have a ligament sprain with a partial or no tear, it may take you three months to return to normal activities. But if the ligament was torn completely, all the treatments, including surgery, may take as much as six to nine months to help you recover completely.
What are the treatments of a knee ligament injury?
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Mild sprains often heal on their own, while severe cases require special medical attention. If your knee ligament does not have tears, your doctor may recommend the following non-surgical treatments to speed up your recovery:
- Rest and crutches to limit putting weight on the knee. He may also recommend braces to immobilize the knee joint to limit further injury.
- Ice and heat alternatively over the tender knee area every two hours when awake to relieve pain and swelling.
- Knee elevation above the heart level to limit blood flow. It helps reduce swelling. Compression of the knee with an elastic bandage or straps also helps reduce swelling.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen, which also help relieve pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy to relieve pain and swelling, strengthen muscles and restore the lost range of knee movements. A physical therapist may help create an individualized exercise plan according to your specific needs.
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection- Regeneration therapy with PRP helps in regenerating the ligaments when the tear is partial.
- Surgery: The doctors recommend surgery for athletes who want to regain their original performance. People with anterior or posterior cruciate injuries may also need surgery. In such cases, a tendon from other body muscles is taken to reconstruct the torn ligament. Collateral ligaments usually don’t need any surgery.