If you’re suffering from pain and instability in your knee then you may have an underlying weakness in one of the cruciate ligaments. The knee has two cruciate ligaments, providing stability: the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), however the ACL is the more common of the two to suffer injury.
If you have recently injured your knee, the short-term symptoms are likely to be acute pain and swelling in and around the knee joint. You may also see some discolouration and bruising in the lower leg. The knee is likely to be painful to move and to bear weight on.
Longer-term symptoms are likely to be more of a lower-grade pain around the knee joint, coupled with a sense of instability in the knee or the leg generally. You are also likely to experience weakness in the thigh and may be finding it difficult to build up the strength of the leg.
Acute ACL and PCL injuries are generally caused by twisting movements of the knee, which put overdue strain on the ligament, causing it to sprain or rupture. These are things like sudden directional changes during sport, being hit from the side in the knee (e.g. by a car or by a rugby tackle) or extreme hyperextension of the knee.
Long-term ACL and PCL problems can build-up over time due to repetitive strain being placed on the ligaments, particularly during sporting activities. Minor ACL and PCL injuries can often go unnoticed at the time of injury, however a problem can subsequently build-up over months or years if the initial injury has never been correctly identified and rehabilitated.
Treatment for ACL and PCL problems in the short-term will aim to manage pain levels, regain flexibility of the knee and encourage the healing of the damaged ligament and other soft tissues as much as possible. This is likely to include hands-on treatment, ultrasound therapy, kinesio-taping, acupuncture and advice on exercises to encourage movement and gentle weight-bearing of the knee.
In the longer term, the treatment and management of ACL and PCL injuries will be more focussed on a guided exercise plan in order to regain the stability, strength and control of the knee.
In order to determine the extent of injury to your ACL or PCL an MRI scan may be required. This may be sought through your GP or, alternatively, we can refer you for a private scan. Also, for serious tears or ruptures, we may need to refer you on to an orthopaedic specialist for further advice.
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Ely, Wisbech, Huntingdon, St Ives & Whittlesey and beyond.
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