Dr. Kinner Avashia

What do you mean by knee ligaments?

We have four major knee ligaments. They are elastic tissue bands that connect the bones. They are also responsible for providing strength and stability to the joints. These four main ligaments connect the femur or the thigh bone to the tibia or the shin bone. They are:

  1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL– This ligament is located in the centre of the knee, controlling the forward movement and the rotation of the tibia.
  2. Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL– This ligament is located on the backside of the knee and is responsible for regulating the backward movement of the tibia or the shin bone.
  3. Medial Collateral Ligament or MCL– This is the ligament that provides stability to the inner side of the knee.
  4. Lateral Collateral Ligament or LCL– LCL provides strength to the outer side of the knee.

Types of Ligament Injuries

When discussing ligament injuries of the knee, we generally classify them into cruciate ligament injury and collateral ligament injury.

Crucial ligaments getting injured- The ACL is quite vulnerable to injury. It often tears or gets stretched during a sudden motion, generally twisting in nature. Athletes and sports persons generally suffer from this injury. The PCL is also a very common ligament to get injured. In cases of PCL, the damage is due to a sudden and direct impact. A car accident can result in this.

Often a cruciate injury does not result in pain. As the person gets injured, they hear a popping sound, followed by a buckling of the legs, if they try to stand on it. Swelling also follows. However, symptoms might differ from person to person.

Collateral ligaments getting injured- The medial ligament is more vulnerable than the lateral ligament when it comes to collateral injuries. The tear and the stretch injuries usually happen because of a blow to the outer side of the knee, especially when one is playing a sport.

The symptoms are quite similar to injuries in the cruciate ligaments.

How to diagnose knee ligament injury?

Talking of knee ligament injuries, the doctors have to access the complete medical history and conduct physical examinations. Some diagnostic procedures are:

  • MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging- This is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of huge magnets, a computer and radio frequencies to get detailed images of structure and organs inside the body. This process can determine any kind of disease or damage in the bones or the surrounding muscles or ligaments.
  • X-ray- It is a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of bones, internal tissues and organs. This is done to rule out any injury to the bone besides a ligament injury.
  • Arthroscopy- This is the least invasive treatment, as well as, diagnostic procedure, which is used for various joint conditions. This process is about using a small optic tube, known as an arthroscope, with a light on its head. The arthroscope is inserted into a joint with the help of a small incision. The doctors can get the images of the inside of the joint magnified and obtain them onto a screen. This process helps to evaluate any kind of arthritic and/or degenerative conditions in the joint. It helps to detect diseases in the bone, as well as tumours. The experts can also determine the exact cause of inflammation and pain in the bones.

Treatment

We visit the doctors for treatment of knee ligament injury. The treatment procedure advised depends on the following:

  • Our age
  • Our medical history and overall health
  • The severity of our damage
  • Our tolerance level for certain specific procedures, medications and therapies
  • The time is taken for the injury to heal
  • The preference or the opinion we might have

The medical treatment provided for early-stage knee ligament injury might include any of or a combination of the following:

  • Elevation
  • Compression with the help of an elastic brace or bandage
  • Rest
  • Application of ice pack
  • Pain killers

An injury can also be treated by the following:

  • Exercises that strengthen the muscles
  • Using protective knee braces, especially when exercising
  • Limiting activities as much as possible

A repair in the knee ligament is the complete process of treating a tear in the knee. This condition usually results in total instability in the knee. Some of us, who might be unfortunate enough to have a ligament injury, might be restricted from doing everyday activities. Especially when we want to twist or turn the knee, our knees might give away. If the above-mentioned medical treatments are not yielding satisfactory results, the doctors will advise surgeries for effective treatment.

If how to cure knee ligament injury is what is bothering you, a good orthopaedic surgeon will always take you out of the despair. He will suggest a correctional surgery that involves replacing the affected ligament with a healthy piece of tendon. For example, a tendon from the hamstring or the kneecap is grafted into the place to hold together the knee joints. This graft may either come from the person affected or from a different donor. In the former case, it is known as an autograft, whereas it is known as an allograft in the latter.

The doctors have to often answer a question, how to recover from a knee ligament injury fast? We should know that ligament injury heals more quickly when good blood flow occurs after the treatment. The processes include home techniques like heat compress, icing, proper exercises and stretching, increased hydration and other sports medicine technologies like NormaTec Recovery. Some ligaments take six weeks to heal completely, while others might take a year.

Often a good diet and plenty of water can help in faster healing of the injured ligaments.

Increasing the amount of water intake will help in promoting the blood to get rid of the toxic elements. Your diet should contain lean meats, walnuts, leafy vegetables, milk, yoghurt, eggs, whole grains, citrus fruits, lentils and other nutrient-rich food items. Cut out empty calories, inflammatory foods and food items in rich sugar to literally get back on your feet.

Dr. Kinner Avashia | Consultant – Orthopaedics | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Ahmedabad.

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