Ligament Injuries are the common type of Injuries which happens in your knees other than the Meniscal and tendon Injuries. You have 2 sets of ligaments in your knees, one on the sides and the other one is inside your knee. The main function of the ligaments is to give stability to the joint by keeping the bones together.
Collateral ligaments– you have collateral ligaments one on the outside of the knee called as lateral collateral ligament(LCL) and the other is on the inside called as medial collateral ligament(MCL). MCL gets Injured when you get a blow to the outside of the knee which pushes the knee inwards and LCL gets injured with a blow on the inside of the knee which pushes the knee outwards’ is less commonly injured than MCL
Cruciate ligaments-You have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)and a posterior cruciate ligament(PCL) which forms a cross inside your knee. Cruciate ligaments provide stability to the knee and control the forward and backward movements of the bones. ACL is injured when there is a sudden change in the direction or speed when your foot is firmly planted on the grounded or a direct impact to the front of the lower leg bone(tibia). PCL gets damaged when you fall on the knee when it is bend or when your kneed hit the dashboard n a car accident.
Injured ligaments are considered as Sprains and are graded as:
Grade 1– Ligament is stretched with a mild damage but its can still provide the stability to the joint,
Grade2-There is partial tear of the ligament
Grade 3 – Complete tear of the ligament and the joint is unstable.
Your menisci may get Injured in any activity or sport that involves twisting or as you get older a degenerative tear can happen with normal activities. Your menisci provide stability, equal weight bearing and shock absorption to your joint.
If you are a runner or a person involved in repeated jumping activities you may damage the tendon that attaches your muscle to your knees. The common injury is an irritation or tear in the quadriceps tendon which attaches your thigh muscles to the kneecap or you may irritate the patellar tendon which is below your knee cap (Jumper’s knee)
Knee Injury Symptoms
Symptoms of a torn ligament are pain, swelling and a feeling of giving way (instability). You might hear a pop or snap and will have difficulty bearing full weight on your leg.
Symptoms of a torn menisci are Pain along the line of the joint or a vague pain felt all over the knee. Pain can be a combination of ache and sharper pain. Pain is worst with twisting, squatting or any activities when menisci can be pinched. Symptoms may settle with rest. The joint may also become swollen and stiff. If the torn part of the meniscus is large it can cause locking. This is caused by a large fragment getting caught in the joint and acting like a wedge preventing the knee from fully straightening. Difficulty in performing activities that loads the knee like going downstairs.
Symptoms of torn quadriceps tendon is pain, swelling and you may not be able to straighten your knee.
If you have hurt your knee in an accident with severe pain and swelling, go to your nearest hospital.
Knee Injury Treatment
Surgery may be advised if it is a grade 3 or complete tear in case of ligament injuries. But some times the conservative management with Physiotherapy and custom knee bracing is tried before deciding to go for the surgery. In all cases of partial ligament tears physiotherapy is the first choice of treatment. Conservative management with Physiotherapy is preferred in most cases of meniscal injuries. Most of partial tears of tendons responds well with non-surgical treatment of immobilization and Physiotherapy. People with complete tear of tendon mostly will require surgery to repair the torn tendon and post operative Physiotherapy to regain function.
Your Physiotherapist is trained to assess your knee to come up with an appropriate treatment plan which initially helps to reduce the pain and swelling. The treatment is then focussed to promote recovery and function with exercises to regain range of movement strength and balance.