Multi-Ligament Knee Injury

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Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Overview

Four major ligaments help stabilize the knee joint and play a crucial role in normal knee function. The ligaments all work in unison to prevent unnatural and excessive movement between the tibia (shinbone) and femur (thighbone). When the knee is pushed beyond its normal limit, an injury can occur. One of the most common injuries found in the athletic population is torn ligaments within the knee. One or more ligaments can be torn which causes pain, swelling and progressive instability. Patients in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area who have experienced a multi-ligament knee injury are encouraged to call Dr. Jervis Yau, knee specialist, for an orthopedic consultation.

High energy injuries such as motor vehicle accidents, fall from height and traumatic sports injury are the typical causes of multi-ligament knee injury. The degree of trauma from these injuries may cause serious damage to the nerves and blood vessels that course through the back of the knee.  Therefore, patients who are experiencing severe pain, swelling, deformity and instability from an acute knee injury are encouraged by Dr. Yau to go to their local Emergency Room immediately.

The four main ligaments within the knee joint include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – located in the middle of the knee
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) — located just behind the ACL
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL) — located on the medial knee between the femur and tibia
  • Lateral collateral ligament (or fibular collateral ligament) — located on the lateral knee between the femur and the fibula

Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Symptoms

A multi-ligament knee injury is marked by immediate pain, instability and difficulty moving the joint. Patients may also experience swelling, bruising and the inability to apply weight to the injured leg. Many patients report a “popping” sound at the time of the injury. In extreme cases, patients may also experience tingling, weakness, numbness or coolness due to injury of the surrounding nerves and blood vessels.

Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Diagnosis

Patients with multi-ligament knee injury are encouraged to seek prompt medical care at their local Emergency Room. If the major arteries and veins passing through the knee are injured, the leg will be at risk and may need emergent surgical intervention.

Dr. Yau will complete a thorough medical review, physical examination, and order specific diagnostic tests. X-rays will help to determine any bone injuries while a MRI scan will define the knee ligaments in detail. If the blood supply is potentially damaged, special imaging will be needed to assess the location of the vascular injury along with a consultation with the vascular surgeon.

Have you sustained a multi-ligament knee injury?

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Multi-Ligament Knee Injury Treatment

Surgical

Almost all multi-ligamentous knee injuries will require knee ligament surgical intervention. Dr. Yau strives to repair or reconstruct the injured ligaments as quickly as possible in order to help prevent further structural damage and improve the overall knee function.  Frequently, Dr. Yau will perform complex knee reconstruction utilizing multiple grafts to restore normal anatomy and function to the joint. Occasionally, more than one surgery is needed and will be staged in order to achieve optimal outcome.

For additional information on torn ligaments in the knee, or for more resources on multi-ligament knee injury treatment, please contact Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic knee specialist in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area.

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