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What are knee ligament injuries?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Each year, approximately 200,000 people in the United States injure their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). ACL injury is sometimes accompanied by medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury on the inside of the knee. Women are more than twice as likely as men to experience an ACL injury. People who participate in sports such as basketball, football, skiing, and soccer—which involve changing direction rapidly, stopping suddenly, or landing awkwardly—are at high risk for ACL injury as well. About half of ACL injuries occur together with damage to the meniscus, articular cartilage, or other ligaments.

Symptoms of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury:
  • Pain and tenderness on the inside of the knee
  • Swelling
  • Wobbling of the knee or knee buckling inward
  • Sensation of the knee opening up with each step (in severe injuries)
Symptoms of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury:
  • A popping sound at the time of injury
  • Swelling, which may cause pain
  • Instability, ranging from wobbling to  a feeling that the knee bone (femur and tibia) are slipping on each other, causing the knee to give way, usually on pivoting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.