Physical Therapy for Knee Ligament Injuries

Knees are complex joints that are susceptible to a variety of injuries. Among the most common are ligament injuries. Knee ligament injuries can be caused by trauma, such as an auto accident, or can be the result of a sports injury. 

There are four main ligaments in each knee. These ligaments are bands of flexible, elastic tissue that connect the bones and cartilage; they also hold together and support the knee joint. Knee ligaments are more vulnerable to tearing and other injuries because they are weight-bearing and often under stress. 

The main knee ligaments connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shin bone). These are the 4 major knee ligaments: 

HTML Table Generator
Ligament  Description 
 Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)  The ligament located in the center of the knee that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)  The ligament in the back of the knee that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone). 
 Medial collateral ligament (MCL) The ligament that gives stability to the inner knee.
Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)  The ligament gives stability to the outer knee. 

At Mid-County Physical Therapy, we can help treat all manner of knee and other sports-related injuries to get you back on your feet in no time. 

Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The ACL is among the most commonly injured ligaments. It is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion. Skiing, basketball, football, and soccer are examples of activities that have a higher risk of ACL injuries. 

The PCL is another common knee ligament injury. These types of injuries occur with sudden, direct impact, such as a vehicle collision or a tackle during a game of football. 

Collateral Ligament Injuries

A soccer player wearing a white shirt and black shorts laying on the ground clutching his knee

The MCL is injured much more frequently than the LCL. 

Injuries to collateral ligaments occur when a force pushes the knee sideways. These usually contact injuries, but not always. 

MCL tears typically occur with a direct blow to the outside of the knee, which pushes the knee inward. These types of injuries are common among hockey and football players.

Knee Ligament Injury Symptoms

While cruciate and collateral ligament injuries have different causes, they have similar symptoms. The most noticeable symptom of a knee ligament injury is a popping sound followed by your leg buckling when you try to stand on it. You will often have pain in the knee and swelling. 

For a cruciate injury, you likely will not be able to move your knee as you normally would and may also experience pain along the joint when you try to walk. Because the symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury may seem like other medical problems, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis after a knee injury. 

For a collateral injury, your pain will likely be localized to the sides of the knee. In an MCL injury, the pain will be on the inside of the knee. If it is an LCL injury, you may have pain on the outside of the knee. Your knee will feel unstable, as though it is about to give way. 

Diagnosing Knee Ligament Injuries

If you suspect you have a knee ligament injury, make an appointment with your healthcare provider so they can perform a physical exam and take a medical history. Treatment may also include one of the following tests: 

  • X-ray: Your doctor may take an x-ray of your knee to rule out a bone injury.
  • MRI: This scan can often determine damage to ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
  • Arthroscopy: This procedure involves inserting a small, lighted tube into the joint through a small incision to assess joint problems internally.

Treatment for Knee Ligament Injuries

man holding his knee in pain

Treatment will vary depending on several factors, including your symptoms, age, and general health. The severity of your injury, such as if it’s a strain or a tear, will also affect treatment options.   

Treatment options for knee ligament injuries: 

  • Pain medication (such as ibuprofen)
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Ice packs to help with swelling
  • Protective knee brace
  • Surgery 
  • Knee physical therapy 

Most mild tears or sprains can be treated with ice, medication, and knee physical therapy. However, severe sprains may require surgery.

Physical Therapy for Knee Ligament Injuries

For most partial tears, full recovery from a knee ligament injury can be achieved through a specialized physical therapy regimen. When you seek physical therapy treatment, we will focus on improving joint movement, relieving pain, and preventing further and permanent damage to your injured ligament. 

The best physical therapy exercises to help you heal depend on what ligament you injured and to what extent. You should never try any exercises at home without first consulting a professional. Improper form or the wrong stretches can make your injury worse. 

Contact Mid-County Physical Therapy For Knee Ligament Treatment Today

If you are experiencing knee pain that you believe may be the result of a knee ligament injury, it is best to speak with a trained physical therapist right away to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Our team of knee physical therapy professionals can help. Our physical therapists will help ensure that you are getting the right treatment so the healing process can occur. 

Contact Mid-County Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment today.



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