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Common Injuries and Treatments

Ankle / Elbow / Hip / Knee / Shoulder / Spine / Wrist



Knee Ligament Sprains & Tears

 

What is a knee ligament sprain/tear?

Ligaments connect bone to bone and provide stability to the skeletal system. If significant stress is placed on a ligament, they can be sprained (stretched) or even torn.

The ligaments of the knee are:

  • ACL - The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is the best known ligament because it is commonly torn in high profile sports figures and it is one of the most important ligaments for controlling the forward motion of the body on a planted leg. If torn, surgical reconstruction of the ACL involves repairing or replacing the ACL and a lengthy rehabilitation program including physical therapy.
  • PCL - The Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) is less commonly injured and not often surgically repaired.  Injuries to this ligament are often caused by falls directly on to the knee. Recovery is usually facilitated by bracing, rest and a gradual strengthening program designed by a physical therapist.

  • MCL / LCL - The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) are most commonly injured when stress is placed on the inside or outside of the leg. The majority of these injuries do not require surgery and are treated with bracing, rest and a gradual strengthening program designed by a physical therapist.

 

What causes injuries to this tissue?

Most knee ligament sprains and tears are caused by some traumatic motion or stress during activity.

What is the best treatment approach?

Some period of relative rest, ice, bracing to protect the knee from further damage usually help with the initial inflammatory response of the injury.  Physical therapy or surgical interventions need to be considered based on the ligament injured, the degree of injury (strained or torn) and the level of activity you would like to return to.

What will the role of physical therapy be in this process?

Physical therapy is vital in assisting in the care of ligament injuries.  Non-surgically managed ligament injuries are often treated with relative rest, bracing and a progressive exercise program.  Physical therapy will be helpful in dealing with early pain and inflammation by using modalites and soft tissue work.  Light intensity exercises can be started almost immediately and progressed as tolerance allows.  Sport and activity specific work is begun as soon as appropriate.

For surgical cases, physical therapy plays an even more important role.  Most surgeries to repair ligaments in the knee require extensive rehabilitation before and after the surgery, which is coordinated by a physical therapist.  Managing swelling and pain, and also assisting with a gradual progressive exercise program in accordance with the surgeon's post operative protocol is the main job of the physical therapist early on.  Increased functional and sport specific training is started as soon as the protocol and the patient's progress allow. 

Will other services be helpful in taking care of this?

Underlying muscle tightness and soft tissue restrictions that are found to be related to knee ligament injuries may be helped by massage therapy work.  Acupuncture can also be of assistance with the pain associated with these conditions.  Training to return to specific life tasks or sports can be initiated by physical therapists and progressed by personal trainers.  After your initial physical therapy evaluation, your physical therapist will help to determine if these services may be helpful.

Need More?

If you have more clinical questions about this condition, please click here to email our Director of Clinical Operations, Jessica Douglas, MSPT, OCS, or you can get more information by searching our blog.

If you'd like a complimentary injury screen with one of our licensed physical therapists to discuss your condition, please contact us.

If you're ready to make an appointment for any of our services, please contact us.

Patient Info

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617.536.1161

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