The knee is the largest joint in the body. Two ligaments in the front and back, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), give the knee its stability. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, over 6 million people and other athletes visit orthopedic physicians for knee problems each year. Gymnasts, dancers and athletes are at risk for knee ligament injury. The AAOS indicates that sports and activities which involve changing directions quickly, jumping, or slowing down while running or going downhill increase the risk of straining their ACL. You may not experience pain immediately, but a popping noise preceding swelling may indicate an injury to the ACL. A complete tear may require reconstruction. Treatment may include operative and non-operative choices, based on activity levels and type of injury.
The PCL is injured less often than the ACL. However, common injuries to the PCL ligament include a blow to the knee or hyperextension (i.e. missing a step while walking downstairs). In most cases, surgery is not necessary, unless a piece of the shinbone is pulled away with the ligament.
Meniscal tears stem from sports-related injuries or even from seemingly innocuous activities such as squatting. Athletes who play football, basketball, and tennis are especially prone to meniscus tears. The type of movement that most often causes meniscal injury is one in which the foot is firmly planted on the ground while the knee is twisted. Shoes with cleats often contribute to this type of injury by anchoring the lower leg into the ground and preventing it from moving with the knee.
Click here to watch a Patient success story of Jolene recovering from her ACL surgery.