Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that hold your bones together and allow the joints to move. Injuries to the ligaments in the knee can cause pain, instability, and other problems, but orthopedic surgeons are trained to repair torn and injured ligaments. At California Orthopedics & Spine, our orthopedic specialists are here to guide you through the entire treatment process — from diagnosis all the way through recovery. Our goal is to help you return to your active lifestyle as soon as possible, and your treatment plan will largely depend on your condition and your overall goals for treatment.
Ligaments of the Knee and Common Injuries
There are four main ligaments in the knee, the ACL, the PCL, the MCL, and the LCL, which help connect the thigh bone to the lower leg (shin bone). We’ve provided more information below about these ligaments and common ways they become injured:
- The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) attach to the thigh bone to the shin. If you could look at them head on, the two ligaments would form an X shape on the inside of your knee. Together these cruciate or crossing ligaments provide rotational stability and allow the knee to move back and forth safely.
- ACL injuries are often caused by sports accidents, sudden changes of direction, or awkward landings. The PCL is injured far less often than the ACL, but a strong force or blow to a bent knee can lead to a PCL injury.
- The MCL and the LCL are collateral ligaments, which are located on either side of your knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is on the inside of the knee, and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is on the outside. These ligaments brace the knee and limit sideways movements of the joint.
- The MCL is more likely to be injured than the inner collateral ligament. Often an MCL injury can accompany an ACL tear. If an LCL injury occurs, usually other parts of the knee are also damaged during the injury.
Ligament Repair and Reconstruction
Treatment for ligament injuries can differ depending on the extent and location of the injury. If ligaments are torn completely or almost completely, surgery will likely be necessary. If the ligament is just stretched or strained a little, ice, supportive braces, and other nonsurgical measures may be good enough.
For serious tears, usually ligament reconstruction will be necessary. This involves replacing or repairing the torn ligament with graft tissue. Usually, ligament repairs are done using arthroscopic procedures. These procedures use a tiny camera and small tools, eliminating the need for a large opening in the knee during surgery. Once the graft is in place, it will take time to heal and function normally.
If possible, your surgeon will likely schedule your procedure after the initial swelling from the injury has gone down. This prevents excess scar tissue from forming after the procedure. Most patients will need to do physical therapy after their procedure to regain the full range of motion of their knee.
Treatment for Injured Joints and Ligaments in Marin County
At California Orthopedics & Spine, our orthopedists and specialists are dedicated to helping patients achieve the best results from treatment. If you are having joint problems related to an injury or other problem, feel free to give us a call. One of our staff members will be happy to help you schedule an appointment to start moving toward treatment.