Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that support and stabilize the movement in joints. There are four main ligaments in the knee. All of them are prone to injury due to physical overexertion and medical conditions. If these ligaments are damaged and torn, the knee becomes unstable and damaged, rendering it unable to perform simple movements.
If you are diagnosed with a torn knee ligament, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatment options, depending on the severity of the tear.
If you feel a loud, popping sensation in your knee, severe knee pain, or a loss of range of motion, immediately cease all physical activity. A good rule of thumb to follow is the RICE method:
If you suspect you may have torn a ligament, immediately stop your physical activity. Further activity may worsen the injury, making it more difficult to repair the torn ligament. A ligament injury needs ample rest, so be prepared to avoid physical activities for a few weeks to months.
While resting, it can help to apply ice to the injured joint, but only for twenty minutes every hour. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling. Applying ice for longer may cause harm, because the cold may burn healthy tissues.
A brace or elastic bandage can help stabilize the joint while reducing swelling. Generally, first aid involves using ice and compression at the same time.
Elevating the injured joint above heart level can help drain fluid from it, also reducing swelling.
The RICE method aims to prevent further injury and excessive swelling and reduce pain.
Swelling is the body’s natural response to injury, but it should be controlled and reduced as much as possible. After or while providing first aid, it’s best to seek the assistance of a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor.
Medication & Lifestyle Changes
A torn ligament often causes significant knee pain. After consulting a doctor, they may prescribe pain medication for relief. However, less severe cases of torn ligaments typically heal over time without surgical intervention.
In addition to pain relief, patients should rest as much as possible to prevent straining the knee further. That means avoiding physical activity for some time, especially:
- Sports activities
- Activities involving running or jumping
- Spending extended time on their feet
In addition to lifestyle changes, the patient may need to use assistive devices to stabilize their injury and prevent further damage. Devices like braces help patients perform tasks independently.
After some time, an orthopedic doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy typically includes muscle-strengthening exercises to help the patient return to regular activity. The goal of physical therapy is for the patient to regain the strength of their muscles and reduce pain and swelling caused by the torn ligament. The exercises can be performed at home or under the supervision of a physical therapist.
Physical therapy may include other modalities, such as:
- Temperature therapy
- Bracing or splinting
- Electrical stimulation
Knee Ligament Repair Surgery
More severe cases of torn ligaments may require surgery. Knee ligament repair is an effective treatment that aims to fix the torn ligament by replacing it with a healthy tendon. The tendon used in grafting will often come from the patient’s kneecap or hamstring, or from a donor.
Knee ligament repair is on an outpatient basis and rarely warrants a hospital stay. Knee ligament repair is typically minimally invasive, so you likely won’t have to worry about a large surgical incision.
Expert Orthopedic Care in Johnson County, MO
Torn knee ligaments can cause debilitating knee pain. Improper treatment may cause further injury, so it’s best to consult a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor immediately after first aid. Torn ligaments vary in severity, so patient needs will vary.
Here at Midwest Orthopedics, P.A., we treat a wide range of orthopedics issues, including torn knee ligaments and other sports-related injuries. We have state-of-the-art medical equipment and board-certified orthopedic surgeons ready to serve you the best quality healthcare in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
We welcome your call at Midwest Orthopedics. If you have any questions about torn knee ligament treatment options advisable for you, you may contact us at (913) 362-8317 or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you recover from your injury and live your life pain-free!