Torn Ligaments in Knee

An Overview on Torn Ligaments in the Knee
(Multi-Ligament Knee Injury)

Four major ligaments compose the knee joint and maintain stability when a patient is performing any athletic activities. The four ligaments all work together to prevent unnatural, excessive motion between the tibia (shinbone) and the femur (thighbone). When one or more of these ligaments experience damage, the joint loses its ability to function. Dr. Matthew Provencher, Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic knee specialist, is highly experienced at treating a variety of torn ligament in the knee cases, such as a multi-ligament knee injury.

Many cases of a torn ligament in the knee involve only one tear, but certain patients may experience a tear in multiple ligaments during the same traumatic event. A multi-ligament knee injury is considered a severe injury and is commonly caused in an automobile accident, a fall from a great height or a direct blow to the joint during sporting activities. If more than one torn ligament in the knee occurs, the joint may become highly unstable and lose all mobility and function. The knee may also move out of its normal position and injure surrounding structures, such as an artery or nerve.

The four major ligaments of the knee include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL), or fibular collateral ligament (FCL)

Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Symptoms

A multi-ligament knee injury is a very serious injury marked by pain, swelling, instability and joint deformity. Walking may become difficult, or even impossible, in some patients since the joint is not functioning as intended. Patients may also experience nerve and blood vessel damage during the traumatic event, leading to weakness, tingling and numbness.

Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Diagnosis

Patients are strongly encouraged to seek immediate care at a local ER if multiple torn ligaments in the knee occur. If the knee injury caused a dislocation, although a complete dislocation is very rare, prompt medical care will allow a physician to reduce the joint, or place back in its normal position. Once the joint is in place, Dr. Provencher will perform a complete medical review and physical examination of the injured knee. He will also perform a series of x-rays to examine the bony structures, as well as an MRI to examine full injury extent. Typically multi-ligament knee injuries involve either the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and/or posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in possible combination with a medial collateral ligament injury. The MRI scan will allow Dr. Provencher to examine all of the surrounding soft tissues and determine which ligaments sustained damage, as well as damage severity.

Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Treatment

A multi-ligament knee injury is almost always treated with early surgery. Surgery may be delayed if Dr. Provencher believes too much swelling is present around the torn ligaments in the knee. Dr. Provencher strives to perform the surgical procedure as quickly as possible to repair the damaged ligaments, to prevent further nerve damage and to improve overall mobility and function of the joint.

The overall goal of the surgical procedure is to repair all torn ligaments in the knee during one procedure because the four major ligaments are interdependent to provide overall joint stability. Dr. Provencher will utilize a variety of techniques to reattach and reconstruct the ligaments so the knee joint can return to its normal anatomy. Dr. Provencher will discuss the surgical procedure for this knee injury in great detail at a patient’s first consultation.

For more resources on a multi-ligament knee injury, or to determine if you have experienced multiple torn ligaments in the knee, please contact Dr. Matthew Provencher, Vail, Aspen and Denver, Colorado orthopedic knee specialist.