Knee Ligament Injuries: Common for Athletes

Ligaments: Support for Your Knees

Your knees are mobile joints that allow you to walk, climb, sit, and kneel. Ligaments stabilize your knee joints for these movements. When you injure a ligament, it may feel as though your knee won't even hold you up. Fortunately, you and your health care team can work together to return you to an active lifestyle.

Torn Ligaments: Two ligaments in your knees are most likely to be injured. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is in the center of your knee. It is often injured by a twisting motion, such as losing control of your skis or falling off a ladder. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside of your knee. It can be injured by a blow from the side. This is common in contact sports such as football or soccer. Injury to either ligament causes pain and weakens your knee joint. Without treatment, you may develop other problems.

A Sudden Twist

Your ACL can be injured when you twist your knee beyond its normal range of motion. When you're on skis, for instance, and "catch an edge," this causes you to twist your lower leg outward or inward. You might hear or feel a pop, and your knee may give way; Pain and swelling result. A complete tear of the ACL is like rope fibers coming apart. A partial tear can also occur. Other parts of the knee may be injured at the same time that you injure the ACL.

Considering Surgery

The most common type of surgery for an ACL injury is reconstruction. This involves replacing the torn ligament with new tissue (a graft). This graft may be a ligament or tendon from your own knee (an autograft) or from a donor (an allograft) .To rebuild your ACL, your doctor may combine open surgery with arthroscopy. With arthroscopy, a tiny opening lets your doctor see inside the joint. Tools inserted through small incisions are used to repair the joint.

To find out more about this procedure and others related to knee injuries, contact the Bone & Joint Clinic at:  318-425-8701.