The knees are held together and stabilized by two major ligaments: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). They cross each other forming an “X” in the middle of the knee – the ACL is in front, and the PCL is in back. They each connect the tibia (shinbone) to the femur (thighbone).
This shape allows the knee to flex and extend, but with very limited side-to-side movement. Tearing in these two ligaments comprises the top two most common knee injuries in athletes, with an ACL tear being most common.
The other two main ligaments in the knee are the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL), but these aren’t as vulnerable to injury as the other two.
Why Is the ACL More Likely to Be Injured than the PCL?
Of the four ligaments that comprise the knee, the ACL is the one that is most frequently torn or stretched. When the feet remain planted, but there’s a sudden rotation or twisting of the knee, the ACL is often stretched or torn to the point of injury.
This happens frequently when people are playing soccer, basketball, football, or other sports where the players are twisting their legs and knees. While it may not be painful, a loud popping noise can be heard when the ligament tears.
This tear is particularly common in women. Genetically, women express different genes than men, and these genes control specific proteins involved in ligament structure and strength. For women, this makeup can make them much more likely to suffer from ACL injuries.
How Are ACL Injuries Treated?
If an ACL is stretched or partially torn, a physician may recommend rest and keeping weight off of the leg that has the injured ACL, and prescribe pain medications. If the ACL is completely torn, the patient may need to undergo an arthroscopic surgery and ACL reconstruction.
How Do PCL Injuries Occur?
PCL injuries are slightly less likely, as they usually happen with impacts to the shinbone in front and just below the knee. PCL tears can also occur with a direct impact from outside of the knee joint. These injures can happen in soccer, football, or even car accidents.
How Are PCL Injuries Treated?
Incomplete PCL tears are likely to be left alone to allow the body to heal on its own. Most often the recommended treatment is the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
A doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and recommend NSAIDs to help relieve any pain. After the ligament has had some time to heal, physical therapy is often recommended to retrain and build muscle strength over time.
Knee Injury Orthopedic Specialists in Broward County
The body is made to stop, start, jump, and change direction very suddenly, but ACL injuries can happen if the forceful pressure is too much for the knee to handle.
When you have a serious injury to a muscle, ligament, or joint, it’s important to get it evaluated and treated by a professional as soon as possible. If you are looking for a qualified, experienced orthopedic doctor in Broward County, call Total Orthopaedic Care (T.O.C.) at (954) 735-3535.
You can also request an appointment online or make a same-day appointment for acute or new injuries. We are happy to answer all of your questions about your orthopedic needs, and we look forward to helping you get back to the active lifestyle you love.