The knee is the largest and one of the most complex joints in the body. The way it is built and the stresses it undergoes make it prone to injury. One of the more common injuries in the knee is a torn ligament. This is a painful injury and can lead to surgery. Here are some treatments for torn ligaments in the knee.
The first thing you should do if you suspect a torn ligament or any other knee injury is get off the leg. After (R)esting, apply (I)ce for at least 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, for several hours. Put a (C)ompression wrap on the knee, such as an Ace bandage, to encourage swelling to dissipate. (E)levate the leg above waist level. Seek medical help immediately.
Bracing and Non-Surgical Options
In the case of a very mild torn ligament, and the severity can only be determined with MRI imagery and X-rays at your orthopedic doctor's office, bracing, rest, and non-use may be used to see if the ligament can heal. If it does heal, physical therapy will then be used to strengthen it and the muscles around the knee to help disburse the weight and stress normally taken on by that area of the knee. The ligaments of the knee are notorious for re-injury, so it is important to follow the guidance of the doctor carefully.
Most torn ligaments in the knee will need to be repaired through surgery. This is most commonly done arthroscopically and is usually done on as an outpatient. The doctor will make three small incisions and use tools through these to reach the knee joint to repair and correct any ligament injuries she finds. After the incisions are closed, the patient goes home to recover and begin physical therapy. The importance of physical therapy cannot be overstated, as the ligament must be rehabbed completely to avoid reinjury.
Physical therapy is arguably the most critical part of any knee injury or surgery recovery. A skilled physical therapist can bring your knee back to its fullest potential, and with determination and willpower on your end, you may well end up better than you were before your injury. PT begins within hours of waking from surgery and starts with re-engaging the quadriceps muscle, which is the first muscle to shut down when a knee injury occurs. Range of motion exercises will assure the knee stays limber, and eventually resistance exercise will strengthen the knee to help keep it from becoming re-injured. Make sure you have a prescription from your doctor for PT and follow the regimen faithfully.