The knee is one of the largest joints in the body, connecting your thighbone to your lower leg bones. It is also vital for movement, and injuries and pain in the knee are very common.
Three bones meet to form the knee: the thighbone, shinbone and kneecap. There are four primary ligaments in the knee that hold these bones together and help keep your knee stable. The knee relies only on these ligaments and the surrounding muscles for stability, which makes it very susceptible to injury.
Injured ligaments are considered sprains and are rated on a severity scale. Grade one sprains are mildly damaged—the ligament has been stretched, but is still able to help keep the knee stable. Grade two sprains stretch the ligament to the point that it becomes loose, and are often referred to as a partial tear of the ligament. Grade three sprains, also known as a complete tear of the ligament, occur when the ligament has been split into two pieces and the knee joint is unstable.
Patients with suspected knee ligament injuries should have a thorough examination with an experienced physician as soon as possible, as repairing damage to ligaments in the knee often requires surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury, an orthopaedic surgeon may call in other specialists, such as a vascular surgeon or microsurgeon. Multiple ligament tears may call for more than one surgery.
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