Ligaments of the Knee Joint

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The Knee

The knee joint, medically known as the tibiofemoral joint, is the largest joint in the body. Two bones make up this joint; the femur and tibia. There is also a sesamoid bone, called your patella or kneecap, that resides above your knee joint. The knee joint is dependent on the muscles to move it and ligaments which surround it for strength and stability.

The Ligaments of the Knee:

Four ligaments are present in the knee joint: the medical collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, and posterior cruciate ligament.

These ligaments provide strength and stability to the knee joint.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located at the inside of the knee joint. It extends from the medial femoral epicondyle to the tibia. This ligament prevents excessive abduction of the knee. It is a thick ligament that typically does not require surgery to repair if it becomes injured.

The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is located at the outside of the knee joint. It extends from the lateral femoral epicondyle to the head of the fibula. This ligament prevents excessive adduction of the knee.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) extends posterolaterally from the tibia and inserts on the lateral femoral condyle. This ligament prevents excessive anterior movement of the tibia under the femur.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) extends anteromedially from the tibia posterior to the medial femoral condyle. This ligament prevents excessive anterior movement of the femur on the tibia.

Injury to Your Knee Ligaments

If you suffer trauma to your knee, you may injure one or more of your knee's ligaments. Signs and symptoms of a knee ligament sprain include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Loss of knee range of motion (ROM)
  • Decresed strength of the muscles surrounding your knee

If you suspect you have sprained a knee ligament, you must check in with your doctor right away to get a confirmed and accurate diagnosis and to get started on treatment right away.

Physical Therapy after Knee Ligament Sprain

Physical therapy is a good idea if you have sprained one of your knee ligaments. Your PT can work with you to restore normal strength and range of motion (ROM) to your knee and to help you return to maximal mobility and function.

Components of a rehab program after a knee ligament sprain may include:

  • Knee stretches
  • Knee strengthening exercises
  • Hip strengthening exercises
  • Balance exercises
  • Plyometric exercises
  • Knee bracing
  • Modalities to control pain and swelling that may occur

Your knee is a major weight bearing joint in the body and is responsible for walking, running, and rising from sitting. Injury to your knee can limit your ability to do these things. If you injure one or more of your knee's ligaments, you may benefit from physical therapy to help you regain normal mobility and function. That way you can quickly and safely get back to your normal activities.

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