Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bones to each other to provide stability and strength to the knee joint. Ligament injuries in the knee are fairly common, especially injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Types of ligament injuries
There are four main ligaments in the knee that connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shin bone):
- Anterior cruciate ligament or ACL — located in the center of the knee, controls the rotation and forward motion of the shin bone
- Posterior cruciate ligament or PCL — located at the back of the knee, controls backward movement of the shin bone
- Medial collateral ligament or MCL — connects the thigh bone to the shin bone on the inside of the knee — MCL stabilizes the inner knee
- Lateral collateral ligament or LCL — connects the thigh bone to the fibula, the smaller bone of the lower leg on the outer side of the knee — LCL stabilizes the outer knee
Injuries to these ligaments are common in many sports where the knee may twist with the foot planted, such as soccer, football, basketball, skiing and gymnastics. These occur when the knee gets hit, when it’s extended too far, when jumping and landing on a flexed knee, stopping suddenly when running or when suddenly shifting weight from one leg to another.
Treating a ligament injury
Orthopaedics at Main Line Health offers a team of orthopaedic doctors with expertise in simple to complex treatment options for ligament injuries. Many people who have tears to the ligaments, particularly ACL tears, opt to have surgical treatment to repair the tear. Your doctor will perform tests, such as an MRI or lab work, to diagnose your condition and develop a treatment plan.
Orthopaedic rehabilitation may be recommended during your recovery from a ligament injury or tear to help you regain full mobility and function of your joint.