Ligament injuries in the knee – such as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) — are dreaded by professional and amateur athletes alike. They can be painful and debilitating. They can even permanently change your lifestyle.
But there’s good news. While an ACL injury or other ligament damage once ended the career of many an athlete, treatment is much more successful now.
So what’s behind these feared injuries? Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect the bones in your body. Two important ligaments in the knee, the ACL and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), connect the thigh bone with the bones of the lower leg. But too much stress on these ligaments can cause them to stretch too far — or even snap.
ACL injury and other ligament injuries can be caused by:
- Twisting your knee with the planted.
- Getting hit on the knee.
- Extending the knee too far.
- Jumping and landing on a flexed knee.
- Stopping suddenly when running.
- Suddenly shifting weight from one leg to the other.
These injuries are common in soccer players, football players, basketball players, skiers, gymnasts, and other athletes.
There are four ligaments in the knee that are prone to injury.
- The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the two major ligaments in the knee. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. ACL injuries are a common cause of disability in the knee.
- The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the second major ligament in the knee connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone.
- The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) connects the thigh bone to the fibula, the smaller bone of the lower leg.
- The medial collateral ligament (MCL) also connects the thigh bone to the shin bone.