What is a knee ligament injury?
There are 2 crucial ligaments in each knee – the front and posterior – and their primary functions is to stabilise the knee joint. The front and the posterior cruciate ligament intersect each other, thus ensuring stability in each direction. The damage usually occurs on the front ligament. Cruciate ligaments can tear, either fully or partially, which reduces the function, movement and stability of the knee joint.
What are the causes of a knee ligament injury?
Damage to knee ligaments often occurs due to a powerful twist of the knee joint, and it frequently occurs in women and athletes – i.e. people from disciplines such as handball, football and skiing are overrepresented in these types of injuries. Most frequently, the damage occurs on the front ligament, which results in a partial or full tear of the ligament. A clinical examination of the knee and an MR scan can detect this.
What are the symptoms of a knee ligament injury?
The symptoms can occur either directly after a twist or a trauma has been sustained or later during physical activity where the knee joint is activated. Most frequently, an injury will feel as if something is broken inside the knee joint. This feeling usually occurs directly after the time of injury. Within a couple of hours, the condition usually causes significant swelling of the knee joint, which can be very painful. The pain and the swelling can make it difficult to use the joint, and it will sometimes feel unstable when walking, especially when walking on a stairway.
The symptoms include:
Swelling of the knee joint and severe pain
A feeling of something being broken in the knee joint
Unstable and uneasy walking
Difficulties walking down the stairs
What are the treatments for a knee ligament injury?
The treatment of knee ligament injuries includes walking with crutches to relieve the knees, painkillers and rehabilitation by a physiotherapist. The rehabilitation is the most important part of the treatment as it helps restore the strength, movement and stability to the knee joint. Most knee ligament injuries heal in about 1 year if the person follows the therapeutic plan and regularly trains the knee joint at an authorised physiotherapist.
In a few cases, an operation is needed to restore full function to the knee ligament. The operation can be done directly or a couple of weeks/months after the time of injury. The time of operation is determined by the severity, scope and possible effect of rehabilitation at a physiotherapist. The operation is done to replace the damaged knee ligament with a healthy tendon from the leg. If you suspect that you have sustained an injury to one or more knee ligaments, visit the emergency room or your GP as quickly as possible to have your knee examined.
Knee injuries require a clinical examination by a physician to quickly diagnose the condition and provide a therapeutic plan. The key to an efficient treatment is a fast diagnosing, followed by regular rehabilitation, rest and painkillers. In severe knee ligament injuries, the mentioned operation is required to replace the damaged ligament with a health tendon.