Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries

  1. What is the function of the cruciate ligaments?
    The cruciate ligaments are two in number. They are named anterior and posterior with regard to the positions of their attachments on the tibia. They are named cruciate ligaments because they cross each other (like the limbs of the letter X). The function of the anterior cruciate ligament is to resist posterior displacement of the femur on the tibia. The function of the posterior cruciate ligament is to resist anterior displacement of the femur on the tibia.
  2. How is the anterior cruciate ligament injured?
    The anterior cruciate ligament is usually ruptured in a rotary strain to the knee. This is frequently in contact games, such as soccer and rugby/football. Skiing is another common sport in which this severe rotary strain is applied to the knee, rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament. Injury may occur in other sports or activity when certain forces are suddenly applied to the knee.
  3. Is surgery always necessary?
    Your physician will assist you in making the decision as to weather or not surgery is necessary. In some cases, surgery is necessary if you wish to continue competing in athletics involving quick movements and cutting. Sometimes, your physician will suggest rehabilitation of the knee in order to build muscles and coordination in order to compensate for anterior cruciate dysfunction.
  4. Is bracing helpful?
    Certain braces have been found to be helpful in adding to stability of the knee in athletic situations. Braces may be used in situations with or without surgery.
  5. What types of exercise are used to rehabilitate the knee without surgery?
    Exercises for strengthening to the knee muscles as well as increasing coordination and endurance are used to rehabilitate the knee. Generally, the patient undergoes a short course of therapy and continues the program independently. Some generalized exercises are included. These should be done only with your physician’s and therapist’s approval.
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