Ligament & Sports injuries

A large number of people injure their knee during sports and exercise every year, in addition falls, road traffic collisions and accidents can cause meniscal and ligament injuries within the knee.

The two most common injuries requiring an operation are acute meniscal (cartilage) tears causing pain and locking on either the inside or outside of the knee and tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Repeated giving way following an ACL tear means it is often necessary to undergo reconstruction to return to normal activity.

The ligament on the inside of the knee is called the medial collateral ligament (MCL), and injuries to the MCL are commonly from a direct blow during football or rugby and rarely require surgery.

Injury to the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is less common than ACL tears and PCL reconstruction was historically only undertaken in Multi ligament injuries often in combination with reconstruction of lateral collateral ligament (LCL) or posterolateral corner. However symptomatic PCL instability can be debilitating especially on hills and stairs and reconstructive surgery for isolated PCL injury is becoming more common with excellent short and medium term results. Few knee surgeons perform PCL surgery and Mr Gallacher receives referrals from colleagues to perform this specialised surgery.

In addition to tearing of the menisci (cartilage) and ligaments it is common to injure the tendons at the back of the knee (hamstrings) or the front of the knee (patella and quadriceps tendons) during sport. Hamstrings tears and inflammation or tendinitis of the patella or quadriceps tendon are usually treated without surgery and will require a supervised period of rehabilitation under the direction of a physiotherapist. Complete pull off injuries of the hamstrings at the hip/buttock may require surgical repair.

Tears of either the patella or quadriceps tendon are very debilitating and often require emergency admission to hospital and will always need surgical repair of the tendon. This is performed under an anaesthetic through open surgery at the front of the knee. Rehabilitation from patella tendon and quadriceps tendon repairs is a lengthy process and involves balancing protecting the repair with regaining full range of motion and strength. it would normally take between 6 and 9 months to return to contact sporting activities following repair.

Occasionally tears of the tendons around the knee can be missed or present to surgeons late (after several weeks or months) if the ends of the tendon have retracted and the normal biological healing process stopped then a reconstruction using tissue from elsewhere in the knee may be necessary to regain function in the knee.

There are many other sports injuries and conditions that can affect recreational, part time and professional sportspeople and impact on their ability to enjoy their sport. Some more information on sports injures can be found on the sports injuries page of this site.