Running. Jumping. Kicking. Turning. At Rothman Institute, we know that as an athlete, you depend upon the stability and mobility of your knee to perform all of these motions and more. You depend upon the strength of your knee to carry you to the goal, to the finish line, to victory. However, even as you work and play hard, accidents can happen which put your knee at risk.
One common type of injury athletes may experience is a knee ligament injury.
Within the knee, there are four important ligaments which help to stabilize the joint. The most commonly known, perhaps, is the ACL (the anterior cruciate ligament) which is located in the middle of the knee joint and is critical to rotational stability. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is broader and stronger than the ACL, located at the back of the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the inside of the knee joint, and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) performs its stabilizing work from the outside of the knee. Each of these ligaments is a tough, fibrous band which stretches across the knee and keeps the joint from moving out of place. Despite their strength, a knee ligament injury is rather common among athletes.
A knee ligament injury can occur in a variety of different ways. In many cases, a direct, significant impact to the knee can injure or even tear the ligament. In others, hyperextension or extending the joint beyond its normal range of motion, can cause similar injury.
If an athlete has experienced such an impact or overextension, some symptoms of a knee ligament may stand out immediately. There will likely be significant pain, as well as swelling and “giving out” or weakness of the knee. As soon as the injury has occurred, it is important to stabilize the knee and work to reduce swelling while you contact a sports medicine doctor or orthopaedic specialist immediately.
The knee specialist will begin with a physical examination of the knee. Because knee ligament injuries often occur in conjunction with other injury, an X-ray may be necessary to discern the source (or sources) of pain. Additionally, an MRI will be necessary to identify the extent of the injury done to ligaments and cartilage.
If you live in or around the Greater Philadelphia area, outstanding diagnostics and treatment for knee ligament injuries is available at Rothman Institute. Whether your injury can be treated nonoperatively or you require reconstructive surgery, our knee specialists have the experience, compassion, and expertise you need to help you on the road to recovery.