Knee Ligament Injuries

Knee Ligament Injuries


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Knee Ligament Injuries


Your Injury

A knee ligament injury involves a stretching or tearing insult to one of the ligaments of the knee joint. .

Ligaments of the knee

Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that connect bone to bone. There are four main ligaments in the knee – the lateral collateral ligament, medial collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament. These ligaments work together to provide strength and stabilisation of the knee joint.

Impact injuries, direct blows and/or sudden twisting movements can cause a traumatic overstretching or tear to the ligament – this is called a ligament sprain.

Ligament sprains are categorised by grade of severity.
Grade 1 Sprain – Mild 1%-10% of the fibres are affected.
Grade 2 Sprain – Moderate 11%-50% of the fibres are affected.
Grade 3 Sprain – Severe 51%-100% of the fibres are affected.

Signs & Symptoms

May include:

  • A popping or tearing sensation at the time of injury, followed by pain and weakness.
  • Rapid swelling of the knee.
  • Pain – depending on the extent of the injury this may be sudden severe pain or a pain that gets progressively worse of the first 24-48 hours.
  • Bruising around the knee joint.
  • A feeling of joint instability.

Conventional Treatment

May include:

  • Oral pain relief is often recommended by GPs, such as paracetamol (with or without codeine), or a non steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen.
  • A topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen gel is also often recommended.
  • Following the PRICE protocol is recommended for ligament sprains.
    o Protection – from further injury (e.g. a support).
    o Rest – avoiding activity for the first 48-72 hours following injury.
    o Ice – applying ice wrapped in a damp towel for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours during the day for the first 48-72 hours following the injury.
    o Compression – to help control swelling and support the injury (e.g. compression bandage)
    o Elevation – keeping the injured area elevated and supported on a pillow until the swelling is controlled.
  • In the first 72 hours following injury it is recommended to avoid HARM
    o Heat – for example hot baths, saunas, and heat packs.
    o Alcohol – increases bleeding and swelling and decreases healing.
    o Running – or any other form of exercise which may cause further damage.
    o Massage – may increase bleeding and swelling.
  • Immobilisation – for mild-moderate sprains it is not recommended to immobilise the joint – range of movement exercises should be performed as soon as the pain is tolerable. For more severe sprains a short period of immobilisation may be recommended.
  • Physiotherapy or Osteopathy may be provided to optimise knee joint function and stabilise surrounding muscles through targeted exercises.
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The information on this site is not to be for self-diagnosis and is no substitute for a diagnosis from a healthcare practitioner.