ACL/PCL/MCL/LCL – Ligament Injuries
The knee is stabilized and strengthened by numerous ligaments that also help protect the knee from serious injury. However, the ligaments themselves are frequently injured in traumatic vehicle accidents. The most common causes of injury to the ligaments are contact sport injuries and car crashes.
The medial collateral ligament, or MCL, is the most frequently injured ligament of the knee. The typical forces causing injury are flexion and internal rotation of the femur (thigh bone) on one of the lower leg bones, which results in injury to the inside of the knee. This occurs frequently with sports injuries, such as a tackle at the knees. In contrast, the lateral collateral ligament, or LCL, is more frequently injured in a high-energy impact (such as an auto accident). The mechanism of injury is typically a flexion force with external rotation of the thigh on the lower leg, resulting in injury to the outside of the knee.
The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is most often injured by a hyperextension type injury; alternatively, it can be injured with rapid deceleration, such as a sudden stop while running at high speed. The posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, is usually not an isolated injury except in the setting of a frontal car accident. With a dashboard injury, in which the knees collide with the dashboard, the backward force applied to the lower legs results in injury to the PCL.
Symptoms of Ligament Injuries
The most common symptoms of a ligament injury in the knee is pain and inability to put weight on the injured leg. With a collateral ligament (MCL/LCL), located on the inside or outside of the knee, the individual will experience tenderness along that area of the knee and may have some mild swelling of the knee. An ACL injury is unique in that the individual will frequently recall feeling a popping or snapping sensation at the time of injury; it also rapidly develops a significant amount of swelling, typically within the first few hours. Injury to the PCL may or may not cause swelling and does not have any specific identifying symptoms.
Initially, all ligament injuries should be treated with rest, ice, elevation, and over-the-counter pain medication, such as Ibuprofen. A collateral ligament injury, as well as a PCL injury, is usually treated conservatively with a hinged knee brace and limited weight bearing while it heals. Only an ACL injury typically warrants surgical repair, particularly in young athletes who wish to continue with sports.
While recovery can be a long process, most individuals do recover. However, the knee may never regain full strength and is more susceptible to injury in the future.
Assistance Through the Complex
Our dedicated St. Louis knee injury attorneys are prepared to expertly guide you through all the necessary steps in order to get the compensation you deserve. For a free case evaluation regarding your ligament injury, call (314) 322-8515 today.