Knee ligament injuries are sprains or tears in one (isolated) or more (combined) of the four primary ligaments that connect the thighbone to the shin and calf bones. They’re most often caused by direct contact or changing direction quickly during sports or physical activity.
The knee has four main ligaments. Two cruciate ligaments, in the middle of the knee joint, are involved in and front-and-back movement. Two collateral ligaments, which run along the sides of the knee, are involved in sideways motion and stability. Sprains or tears can happen in any of these ligaments:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): runs along the front of the knee
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): runs along the back of the knee
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL): runs along the inside of the knee
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL): runs along the outside of the knee
Symptoms of a torn ACL, PCL, MCL, or LCL include pain, swelling, a popping sound during the injury, a loose feeling in the joint, and the inability to walk or stand. Damage ranges from a mild sprain to a complete tear, and can happen with other knee injuries, such as meniscus tears.
If you have moderate to severe knee pain due to a ligament injury, call an orthopaedic specialist at the University of Miami Health System. We offer appointments as soon as possible — often the same day or within 24 hours.
Most mild knee injuries resolve with home treatments, including rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE method).
Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication or recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and pain.
Your doctor may recommend you undergo electrical stimulation therapy to help get relief from your injury.
You may need to work with a physical therapist to regain strength and use following an injury.
If your knee condition has not been responsive to other treatment options, you may need to undergo surgery, such as or knee replacement.
Your doctor will conduct a thorough exam and review your health history to diagnose a knee ligament injury.
Your doctor may order an imaging test such as an X-ray, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm a diagnosis.
Why Choose UHealth?
The University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute. Our sports medicine experts help you get back to your optimal strength and performance quickly and safely following an injury. Whether you’re a professional or collegiate-level athlete recovering from an injury or someone who enjoys going for a jog a couple times a week, our world-renowned sports medicine specialists will help you get back in the game.
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