Understanding Your Knee
Your Knee is the largest and most complex joint in your body...
ACL & PCL - Cruciate Ligaments
Your Anterior Cruciate (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) gives you rotational stablility. They sit as an X in the middle of the knee, enabling the knee to bend. These ligaments connect the femur to the tibi. The ACL prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur (so your leg doesn't give way). It is the most commonly injured ligament, with approximately 50 percent of ACL injuries occuring in combination with damage to the meniscus, articular cartilage, or other ligaments. The ACL can not mend with Physio. Rehab options are either to strengthen knee muscles or have ACL surgery.
MCL & LCL - Colatoral Ligaments
Your Medial (MCL) and Lateral Collatoral Ligaments (LCL) provide sideways motion and bracing against unusual movement. The MCL sits on the inside of the knee and the LCL on the outside. Most injuries to these ligaments occur in the MCL and result in sprains that can generally heal with bracing and physio.
Knee Injury Causes and Consequences
Unravelling the exact root issue of a knee injury can be like peeling an onion - a tear inducing process! Most sporting knee injuries occur as:
direct blows to the knee,
impact from a poor foot plant
or from an awkward knee twist
There are approximately 200,000 ACL injuries per year, with 70% from non-contact causes. NCAA statistics found that women are 2-8 times more prone to tear their ACL compared to men due to a range of factors including: anatomical, biomechanical, hormonal and conditions of the sport and weather.
Your Meniscus are your shock absorbers, located on either side of the joint, between the cartilage surfaces of the femur and tibia. They work with the cartilage to reduce the stresses between the tibia and the femur. Meniscus or (knee cartilage) tears may cause knee stiffness, pain, slipping, locking or popping. If a piece of the meniscus comes loose it can float into the knee joint and cause further issues, so it should always be checked.
Bones & Muscle
Your knee joint has 3 bones: your thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). These bones are connected to your muscles with tendons. These tendons are strong cords of fiberous tissue. The quadriceps tendon connects the muscles in the front of your thigh (the quadricep muscle) to your patella. The patellar tendon connects your shinbone. The muscles and tendons work together so you can straighten your knee. Small tears in the tendon will make it difficult to walk and likely require physio. A full tear may require surgery.
How long will recovery from ACL surgery take?
Recovery periods depend upon your injury and level of rehab support you engage. Typically recovery takes between 6-12 months to reach pre-injury levels of sporting performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
With most surgery conducted arthoarthroscopically, there is rarely a need for braces. However, you may wish to use the support of a brace for leg stability prior to surgery or during periods of knee strengthening. Braces should not be required for sports once full recovery is acheived.
Will I have to wear a brace?
There are a number of factors to consider which will vary depending upon your location and situation. Costs include: medical fees, X-rays, MRI, surgery, physio visits, equipment to suport your rehab (such as a cryo-cuff ice pack and bike wind trainer), and 2-3 weeks time off of work.
How much will knee rehab cost?
How can I fast track recovery?
Win the race by being the tortoise...take a step back, accept your injury, and take the opportunity to rebuild your whole self, not just your knee. Strengthen your core, improve your diet and stengthen your mind. A rigourous well-laid plan will ensure a faster recovery and better outcome.