Know Your Knees, Part 2: Knee Ligament Injury

Welcome to the second instalment in our four part series on one of the most commonly injured body parts - your knees!

This week we are looking at:

Knee Ligament Injury


This type of injury almost always occurs following some form of traumatic or collision incident such as a tackle in soccer or football, landing awkwardly in surfing/wakeboarding/kitesurfing or after some form of twisting motion of the lower leg. The knee will normally become inflamed very quickly after the incident and weight shift onto that leg will be painful and/or as if the knee will give way.


These incidents put a heavy load and stress through the ligaments that work to keep the alignment and structure of the knee normal. In severe cases these ligaments can be partially torn or even fully ruptured. Lower severity of injury is when these structures are stretched enough to cause pain but do not have any tearing. The mechanism of injury varies slightly but main way the MCL and LCL ligaments are injured is when a force is placed through the knee from one side e.g. a person falling across the knee in a soccer/football tackle. The ACL and PCL are normally at risk with hyperextension or hyperflexion (excessive bending/straightening) of the knee joint e.g. landing on one straight leg after a jump.

  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) + Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) = Two ligaments that cross either side (inside and outside) of the knee, preventing sideways movement of the lower leg relative to the thigh/upper leg and keep the knee aligned vertically.

  • Anterior Collateral Ligament (ACL) + Posterior Collateral Ligament (PCL) = Two ligaments within the knee joint that prevent forward and backward translation of the lower leg relative to the thigh/upper leg.


The treatment for these injuries depends on the severity and extent of the damage to the ligaments.

  • Conservative = This approach incorporates rest, strengthening programs and progressive return to sport. Usually the conservative approach is taken when there is either a strain (stretch, no tear), or a minor tear. The recovery from these injuries is dependent upon how severe the strain, what level the individual is trying to get back to and how they respond to the strengthening program but normally 1-2 months for a decent strain.

  • Surgery = this is normally required if the ligament is ruptured or has a sever tear. After surgery a progressive strengthening and proprioceptive exercise program to stabilise the knee is prescribed. ACL surgery normally requires 12 months of rehabilitation for any return to sport. MCL/LCL is less severe, this requires 2-3 months of rehabilitation before return to sport. Keep your eyes out for next weeks instalment!

If you have a pain, injury or simply a question - give us a call on (08) 9448 2994, or book an appointment online here!

#physiotherapy #physio #doctororphysio #knowyourknee #knee #kneeligamentinjury

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