Our knee is supported by 4 main ligaments – anterior ruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Each of the ligament plays a different role in ensuring the stability of the knee. However, due to various reasons, the ligaments can be torn. Rupture of the ligament can be a partial one or a full one and this will affect the treatment administered. A ligament tear will also bring about instability in the knee and the inability for it to bear weight, causing problems when walking. In this article, we will look at some of the symptoms and treatments for ligament tears.
The role of each ligament differs:
The role of the ACL is to stabilise the knee joint by restriciting forward back backwards movement of the knee. It is designed to prevent the tibia bone from moving in front of the femur. The role of the MCL is to protect the knee against any sudden and/or unwanted forces that is directed at the side of the knee. It restricts the sideway movement of the knee. The LCL works in conjunction with the MCL to restrict sideway movement and it protects against sudden forces that is directed at the inside of the knee. Lastly, the PCL works together with the ACL to control forward and backward movements of the knee.
An injured ligament will bring about symtoms that are similar to each other:
·As a general rule of thumb, a partially torn ligament will not bring about a pop sound while a fully ruptured one will produce a pop sound. A fully torn one will also create instant instability and the knee will give way.
·Swelling will occur and the injured knee may start to turn purple due to the lack of proper blood flow to the area. Swelling occurs due to a build up of blood from the injured ligament.
·The knee will be unable to function properly and you may feel that you are unable to control it.
·Tenderness will onset when you touch the knee.
The first step in treatment is to pay the PRICE:
·Protect the knee from further movements
·Resting the knee immediately following injury for at least 48 hours. If you need to move around, consider using crutches or walkers to prevent bearing weight on the injured knee.
·Ice will bring down swelling and reduce inflammation. Always try to ice the area every hour by using a cold compress or simply by wrapping knee in a towel and applying it locally.
·Compress the knee with a bandage to reduce swelling and prevent excessive movements.
·Elevate the knee to above your heart level to reduce swelling. This will cause excessive blood to flow away due to gravity towards your heart.