Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't. – Jerry Rice

What is ligament tear

Ligaments are short, tough, flexible bands of tissue which connect the bones of the body together. They help provide a limit to the motion of the joints. When a joint is stressed beyond its normal range it causes a ligament injury like a tear. Twisting or overstretching a joint beyond its limits are the common causes of a ligament tear.

Possible Causes:

Ligament tears commonly affect the knees. Robust bands of protective tissue called ligaments join femur to the tibia to give stable joint. Both the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connect your thighbone to your shinbone. PCL prevents the tibia from sliding backwards relative to the femur while ACL resists abnormal forward movement of the tibia and give rotational stability to the knee.

Possible causes of knee ligament tears are injuries during sports mainly involving twisting and falls. You could also suffer from ligament tears in the foot or ankle or in the arm.

Risk Factors: 

A ligament tear is likely if:

  • You play contact sports and get injured. Athletes in sports such as football are most vulnerable.
  • You have a motor vehicle accident.
  • Simple falls that involve twisting injury to the joint.

Signs & Symptoms: 

  • Pain in the knee that may make you limp while walking.
  • Swelling immediately after the accident.
  • Your knee doesn’t feel stable, you feel as if it may buckle under you.

As time passes, pain and swelling may improve but after longer time, your pain may increase and your knee may feel more unstable.


The diagnosis begins with careful history taking detailing the mechanism of injury. Physical examination to check for any fluid in the joint which may be due to bleeding; special bedside joint stability tests will be done by the specialist to elicit and assess degree of any ligament injury. Following that, our specialist may recommend more tests. You can get all these diagnostics done at Medcare:

  • An X-ray to check for bone fractures. Ligament injuries can sometimes cause avulsion fractures in which small pieces of bone which are attached to it break away.
  • MRI scan is the gold standard to assess joint ligaments injury and will show if there is an associated cartilage injury.

Treatment Options: 

At Medcare, your ligament tear treatment will be given based on the severity of the injury, your age, and your functional demands including if you wish to do pivoting sports in the future. Usually, our doctors prescribe pain killers followed by physiotherapy. You may need to use crutches or braces during the period that your injury is healing.

Arthroscopic surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure, may be required to reconstruct your torn ligament usually using your own tendons if the ligament tear is severe and if you wish to continue doing sports in the future. 

Your surgeon will also deal with any fracture or more commonly cartilage injury at the same setting. You will be discharged home the following day after the surgery using crutches and may need a knee brace for a few weeks after surgery. 

Postoperatively, Medcare specialists will supervise intense and structured physiotherapy and rehabilitation protocol to enhance your recovery and will be with you in every step of your recovery till you go back to your normal life and sports providing advice all the way through.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • How will I know when I have a ligament tear?

    A: If you have twisting injury to your knee followed by pain and or swelling, it is probably a ligament tear and you need to visit your doctor.

  • Which foods will make my ligaments strong?

    A: No specific food will prevent ligament injury if you twist your knee with enough force. Generally, foods that contain vitamin C such as bell peppers, guava, kale, kiwi, broccoli, berries, oranges and grapefruit, as well as foods that contain magnesium such as spinach, almonds, peanuts, cashews, soymilk, black beans and avocado, are recommended. 

    Foods that contain zinc such as oysters, beef, lobster, chicken, cashews and chickpeas improve immunity and help tissue building.

  • I need an arthroscopic knee surgery. How long will it take me to recover?

    A: Depending on you condition and type of injury this duration varies. After an arthroscopic knee surgery to reconstruct anterior cruciate ligament, usually one day of hospital stay is recommended and your surgeon is likely to advise you to keep your leg elevated for a few days. 

    You will need to visit the hospital to change the dressing of the wound. Ask your surgeon and doctor about follow up visits and schedule appointments accordingly. You may need crutches for about 4-6 weeks. 

    Once your knee starts to recover, your doctor will recommend that you start physiotherapy. A good physiotherapist will help you to restore the full range of motion and build muscle strength. The time taken for this varies from person-to-person, but you should expect a recovery time of 4 to 6 weeks. 

    If you have arthroscopic knee surgery to reconstruct the cruciate ligament along with repair or clean torn cartilages, this time frame can be longer.