The majority of stabilization in the knee comes from the ligaments. The cruciate ligaments are made up of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), which cross to form an “x” shape inside the knee. The collateral ligaments provide additional stability on the inside of the knee through the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and outside the knee through the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The LCL is not addressed in the following information, as it is seldom injured. Ligament injuries can come from sports-related movements such as pivoting, jumping, stopping quickly, or a direct impact to the knee. These injuries can happen to people of many ages and activity levels, and is by no means limited to athletes.
- Popping noise at time of injury (ACL, PCL)
- Pain in knee (ACL, PCL)
- Severe pain inside of knee (MCL)
- Swelling around injured area (ACL, PCL, MCL)
- Instability (ACL, occasionally with PCL)
The doctor may suggest resting, icing, elevating, and putting compression on the injured knee.
Certified Physical Therapists work closely with doctors to create an individualized program to maximize healing and restore function, strength and mobility.
A variety of supports such as a brace or other advanced support can help restrict movement and allow the ligament to begin the healing process.
Depending on the severity and type of ligament injury, surgery may be recommended. For ACL injuries, arthroscopic or open surgery is done using a graft to replace the damaged ligament. For certain PCL cases where the ligament is no longer attached properly to the shinbone, surgery is considered. For MCL injuries when the ligament is completely torn, surgery can help to repair it.