A torn knee ligament causes knee pain, swelling, and instability, greatly restricting knee movement and rendering you unable to pivot, turn, or twist your leg. Activities involving these movements can cause your knee to buckle or give way.
If you have a torn knee ligament and you no longer get satisfactory relief from medical treatments, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a surgical repair as your recourse.
Let’s talk about the surgical repair of tears in the four major knee ligaments and where you can find an orthopedic surgeon in San Antonio, TX who can do this to help you regain your normal knee function.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
One of the two cruciate ligaments, the ACL runs diagonally in the center of your knee. It attaches your thighbone to your shinbone and is responsible for flexing, extending, and rotating your lower leg, and for supporting most of your body’s weight.
Both X-ray and MRI scans can determine the extent of your ACL injury. Based on the findings, your orthopedic surgeon will recommend an ACL reconstruction, which is typically performed through arthroscopy. This procedure—which involves the use of a long, thin tube with a camera attached at the end—allows your surgeon to see the structure of your joint without having to create a large incision.
During an ACL reconstruction, your orthopedic surgeon will create small incisions around your knee to replace the damaged ligament with a graft of a tendon. Your orthopedic surgeon will drill small sockets in your shinbone and thighbone to ensure accurate positioning of the tendon before attaching it with surgical staples or screws.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injuries
Like the ACL, the PCL is a key structure in the knee joint, albeit larger and stronger. It is located in the center of your knee, crisscrossing the ACL. Both ligaments hold the same function, which is to stabilize and protect your knee from front-to-back and back-to-front impact. The PCL, by itself, prevents your lower leg from slipping too far back when your knee is bent.
PCL tears are usually caused by a sharp, violent blow to your shinbone or by falling on a bent knee. These are common during motor vehicle accidents or contact sports, such as soccer and football.
Your orthopedic surgeon will recommend surgery to reattach the ligament with a screw if it is pulled away from the bone; or reconstruct it using a graft, if it is torn completely. PCL tear repairs are also done through arthroscopy, requiring smaller incisions and producing less scarring.
Arthroscopic reconstruction of the PCL is technically more difficult compared to that of the ACL. This is attributable to the fact that the PCL has a complex fiber pattern that makes precise duplication difficult.
Medial Collateral Ligaments (MCL) Injuries
The MCL is a wide, thick band of tissue located down the inner part of your knee, from your thighbone to a point on your shinbone (about 4 to 6 inches from your knee). It is responsible for preventing your leg from extending too far inward and for both keeping your knee stable and allowing it to rotate.
MCL injuries most often occur when your knee is hit directly from the outer side. The MCL also can be injured through repeated stress, which causes it to lose its normal elasticity.
The majority of MCL tears rarely require surgery because they can heal on their own using nonsurgical treatment options. However, surgery may be recommended for severe cases or when another major knee ligament is involved. When this happens, as with ACL and PCL reconstruction surgeries, your surgeon will repair the torn MCL through arthroscopy using a tendon graft.
Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injuries
The LCL is a thin band of tissue located along the outside of your knee. It connects your thighbone to your calf bone and holds the same function as the MCL does: to provide stability to your knee.
LCL tears are usually caused by a direct blow to the inside of your knee. These commonly happen in vigorous-intensity sports that involve quick stops or turns (e.g. basketball, soccer, and skiing), or those in which high-speed collisions are common (e.g. football and hockey).
If your LCL is torn all the way through, your surgeon will likely recommend surgery, especially if you’re an athlete. Because of their location, LCL tears require open-knee surgery. Your surgeon will create one or two large incisions on the outside of your knee to get a full view of the structure of your joint. Using surgical screws and sutures, your surgeon will attach the tendon graft to your thighbone and calf bone.
Finding a Reliable Orthopaedic Surgeon in San Antonio, TX for Your Knee Ligament Injury
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our providers have decades of experience in performing knee reconstruction surgeries that have produced exceptional results in many of our patients. If you think you’ve sustained a knee ligament injury, have any one of our orthopedic surgeons evaluate your condition and perform a thorough diagnosis and treatment. The extensive sports medicine training our providers have also helped ensure a faster return to your sport and other normal activities.
To schedule an appointment with any of our orthopedic surgeons, call (210) 692-7400 or use our convenient online request form. We look forward to serving you!