Treating Knee Ligament Injuries

Overview

Treatments for knee ligament injuries include:
  • anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
  • medial collateral ligament (MCL)
Treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (the RICE regimen) to reduce inflammation and pain. Oral medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen may help these symptoms, as well. Patients may need to use crutches until they are able to walk without a limp. Sometimes a brace is to provide support and promote comfort until pain decreases, as well.

A physical therapist should be involved in care, to help the patient improve range of motion and to strengthen, as pain and swelling permit. A surgical evaluation is useful for patients with severe injuries, or in cases in which non-operative treatments are not successful and patients remain unable to participate in certain sports.

Injuries involving multiple ligaments are usually associated with high-energy trauma (e.g., vehicle accidents). It’s possible to have severe injuries to the blood supply or nerves to the leg, so these should be seen by a physician and evaluated as soon as possible in the emergency department. Multiple ligament knee injuries usually require surgery.