Trauma can cause injury to the ligaments
Injuries to these areas are noticed as immediate pain, but are sometimes difficult to localize.
Usually, a collateral ligament injury is felt on the inner or outer portions of the knee. A collateral ligament injury is often associated with local tenderness over the area of the ligament involved.
A cruciate ligament injury is felt deep within the knee. It is sometimes noticed with a “popping” sensation with the initial trauma.
A ligament injury to the knee is usually painful at rest and may be swollen and warm. The pain is usually worsened by bending the knee, putting weight on the knee, or walking. The severity of the injury can vary from mild with only minor stretching or tearing of the ligament fibers, such as a low grade sprain, to a severe complete tear of the ligament fibers. Patients can have more than one area injured in a single traumatic event.
Ligament injuries are initially treated with ice packs and immobilization, with rest and elevation. It is generally initially recommended to avoid bearing weight on the injured joint and crutches may be required for walking. Some patients are placed in splints or braces to immobilize the joint to decrease pain and promote healing. Arthroscopic or open surgery may be necessary to repair severe injuries.
Surgical repair of ligaments can involve suturing alone, grafting, and synthetic graft repair. These procedures can be done by either open knee surgery or arthroscopic surgery. The decision to perform various types of surgery depends on the level of damage to the ligaments and the activity expectations of the patient. Many repairs can now be done arthroscopically. However, certain severe injuries will require an open surgical repair. Reconstruction procedures for cruciate ligaments are increasingly successful with current surgical techniques.