The knee consists of four ligaments: the MCL, LCL, ACL, and PCL. These four ligaments surround the two bones of the knee: the femur and the tibia. Knee ligaments are made of tough fibrous material that provide the knee with strength and stability and control excessive motion by limiting joint mobility. Drew Stein, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, including treatment of knee ligament or cartilage tears, and knee osteochondral defects. Here is some information about the four ligaments of the knee.
Medical Collateral Ligament
The medical collateral ligament (MCL) is located at the inside of the knee joint. The MCL connects the shinbone (tibia) with the thighbone (femur). Its primary function is to prevent the overextension of the knee joint from side to side. A typical MCL injury results when the outside of the knee joint is struck. Typical treatment aims to increase mobility and strengthen the knee.
Lateral Collateral Ligament
The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is a thin band of tissue that runs along the outside of the knee, connecting the femur to the fibula. Similar to the MCL, the LCL’s main function is to keep the knee stable as it moves through its full arc of motion. A locking of the joint, the feeling that your knee may give way, and stiffness are a few of the common indicators of an LCL tear.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) extends from the tibia and inserts on the lateral femoral condyle. The basic function of the ACL is to provide stability to the knee and minimize stress across the knee joint. Torn ACLs are common in athletes, especially those that play contact sports such as football.
Posterior Cruciate Ligament
The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) extends from the tibia posterior to the medial femoral condyle. The PCL is the knee’s basic stabilizer and is almost twice as strong as the ACL. It prevents excessive movement of the femur on the tibia. The PCL often requires surgery for a complete tear.
If you’re an athlete and have suffered an injury, you may need to speak with an orthopedic surgeon. Call Drew Stein, M.D. in New York at (212) 398-2300 to schedule an appointment today.