The knee consists of four main ligaments: the anterior cruciate ligament, the posterior cruciate ligament, the medial collateral ligament and the lateral collateral ligament. These ligaments work together to keep the knee stable as you walk, pivot, turn or play sports. Most knee ligament injuries—such as an ACL tear—involve a single ligament.
Because these injuries are so complex, a precise diagnosis and meticulous planning are necessary before surgery takes place. Assessment by a qualified surgeon is critical. There are a number of ways in which the ligaments may be reconstructed. Usually, a graft is used to replace a completely torn or deficient ligament. The graft is made from either the patient's own tissues (called an autograft) or from donor tissues (called an allograft).
There are four main ligaments that stabilize the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament are located inside the knee joint and control the knee's "back and forth" motion. The medial and lateral collateral ligaments, on the sides of the knee, control sideways motion.
When is surgery recommended?
Although some knee ligament injuries heal on their own, surgery may be required. The sooner surgery takes place, the better the results. Early treatment allows for improved function during the healing process, return to an active lifestyle and a decrease in the progression of arthritis in the future.
What is the recovery time?
The restoration of normal knee motion and muscle strength are important to avoid complications and speed the recovery process. Following surgery, patients usually wear a brace and do not put any weight on the knee for approximately four weeks. A robust physical therapy program is necessary to regain, flexibility, stability and strength. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.