Knee joint ligaments help to stabilise and support the knee when it is moved into different positions.
The four primary ligaments of the knee joint and how ligaments injured are:
- The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL): this ligament helps to limit the amount that the knee moves from side to side, and stabilise the knee joint against any blows or forces that may be directed on to the outer side of the knee. MCL injury when the outside of the knee joint is struck and MCL is stretched too far
- The Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL): this ligament helps to limit the amount that the knee moves from side to side, protect and stabilise the knee joint against any blows or forces that may be directed on to the inner side of the knee. LCL injury when too much force is placed on the inside of the knee causing the fibres in the ligament to tear.
- The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL): this ligament helps to stabilise the knee joint by controlling backward and forward movements of the knee (prevents tibia bone moving forward). ACL injury when the knee receives a direct impact from the front while the leg is in a stable position
- The Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL): this ligament helps to control the forward and backward movements of the knee. PCL injury when applying powerful force to the front of the upper shin
Tears of the ligaments usually occur following sporting injuries, e.g. football, basketball, netball and skiing and can have a significant impact on a persons mobility and independence with everyday activities, such as climbing the stairs.
During knee injury, a knee ligament may be stretched (sprain), or sometimes torn (ruptured). Ligament rupture can be partial tear or complete tear.
Signs and Symptoms of Knee Ligament Injury or Tear
– A popping sound, or a popping or snapping feeling during accident can sometimes be heard if a ligament is completely torn.
– Swelling, tenderness, bruising
– Reduced knee joint movement: In complete ligament tears, movement can be severely reduced
– Knee joint unstable and feel ‘giving way’ on weight bearing
– Walk with a limp.
What should I do for knee ligament injury?
If you feel that you may have a knee ligament injury, you should see a physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist will usually start by asking you questions about the injury, what happened and location of pain. Physiotherapist may then examine your knee joint and move your leg into different positions to test your knee ligaments. From this examination, an idea of the possible injury can be diagnosed.
If your physiotherapist is concerned that you may have a more serious knee ligament injury, they may refer you for further tests such as an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan. Such tests should be able to show up any tears or rupture of your ligaments. Sometimes, an X-ray of your knee may be suggested.
What can physiotherapist do for knee ligament injury?
Treatment of a knee ligament injury can depend on a number of things including which ligament is injured and your lifestyle.
- Stop pain and swelling
- Relieving stiffness
- Restoring and increase range of movement
- Increasing balance and co-ordination
- Improving muscle strength
- Enhancing stability of the knee
- Preventing re-injury
- Promoting a speedy recovery, back to sports