Knee Ligament Injuries
Article by John Miller
What is a Knee Ligament?
A ligament is a short band of tough fibrous connective tissue composed mainly of long, stringy collagen molecules. Ligaments connect bones to other bones in and around joints. They do not connect muscles to bones; that is the function of tendons. Ligaments limit the amount of mobility of a joint, or prevent certain movements altogether.
What Causes Knee Ligament Injuries?
You can injure a ligament through a sharp change in direction, landing wrong from a jump, or the most common a blunt force hit to the knee, such as in football tackle. The incident usually needs to happen at speed. Muscle weakness or incoordination predispose you to a ligament sprain or tear.
Major Knee Ligaments
ACL: Anterior Cruciate Ligament
Symptoms & Severity of Knee Ligament Injuries?
The severity and symptoms of a ligament sprain depends on the degree of stretching or tearing of the ligament.
In a mild grade I sprain, the ligaments may stretch, but they don't actually tear. Although the joint may not hurt or swell very much, a mild sprain can increase the risk of a repeat injury.
What's the Healing Time of a Knee Ligament Injury?
Treatment of a ligament injury varies depending on it's location and severity.
When a grade II sprain occurs, use of a weight-bearing brace or some supportive taping is common in early treatment. This helps to ease the pain and avoid stretching of the healing ligament. After a grade II injury, you can usually return to activity once the joint is stable and you are no longer having pain. This may take up to six weeks. Physiotherapy helps to hasten the healing process via electrical modalities, massage, strengthening and joint exercises to guide the direction that the ligament fibres heal. This helps to prevent a future tear and quickly return you to your pre-injury status.
When a grade III injury occurs, you usually wear a hinged knee brace to protect the injury from weight-bearing stresses. The aim is to allow for ligament healing and gradually return to normal activities. These injuries are most successfully treated via physiotherapy and may not return to their full level of activity for 3 to 4 months. Definitely seek professional advice in these cases.
Common Treatments for a Knee Ligament Injuries
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