Knee Injuries - ACL, PCL and Meniscus Tears

Meniscus, ACL tear causing pain behind knee 

As every athlete knows, a strong, healthy knee is crucial to optimum performance. The knee is composed of several ligaments, including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the meniscal ligaments. Damage to these ligaments is among the most common sports-related injuries that orthopedic surgeons treat.

ACL, PCL, and severe meniscal tears usually require surgery. At Saint Francis, our orthopedic surgeons -- sports medicine specialists -- are trained in state-of-the-art procedures, such as arthroscopy and ligament transplantation. These treatments often mean smaller scars, less pain, and shorter recovery times. Treatment for less-severe mensical injuries may be as simple as application of ice, or use of anti-inflammatory medications. However, for people who participate in sports-related activities, doctors may recommend surgery for all meniscal tears.

What are the symptoms of an ACL or PCL tear?

Often, a cruciate ligament injury does not cause pain. Instead, the person may hear a popping sound as the injury occurs, followed by the leg buckling when trying to stand on it, and swelling. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

The symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of a torn meniscus?

The following are the most common symptoms of a torn meniscus. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain, especially when holding the knee straight
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • Knee may click or lock
  • Knee may feel weak

The symptoms of a torn meniscus may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is a knee ligament injury diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a knee ligament injury may include:

  • X-ray
    A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film to rule out an injury to bone instead of, or in addition to, a ligament injury.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in bones and a surrounding ligament or muscle.
  • Arthroscopy
    A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) that is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen; used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

Treatment for knee ligament injuries

Treatment may include:

  • Medicaine such as ibuprofen
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Protective knee brace (for use during exercise)
  • Ice pack application (to reduce swelling)
  • Surgery

ACL, PCL, and meniscus content, and image provided by Krames-Staywell.