A knee dislocation, or multi-ligament injury of the knee, is a devastating knee injury that can occur in sports but often results from high-velocity traumas, such as motor vehicle accidents. This is not a kneecap, or patellar, dislocation. In this injury, the patient tears at least three of the four main ligaments of the knee.
Blood vessel and nerve damage from a multi-ligament injury of the knee
Multi-ligament knee injuries and knee dislocations often involve enough trauma to injure the blood vessels and nerves around the knee along with the ligaments. It’s crucial that athletic trainers and doctors check for damage to these structures.
Treatment of a multi-ligament injury of the knee
Patients who suffer a multi-ligament knee injury almost always need surgery to stabilize the knee. Some surgeons treat these injuries in one surgery, which can require a three- to six-hour procedure to reconstruct the ACL and PCL and repair or reconstruct the MCL and/or LCL and posterolateral corner. Other surgeons choose to address the MCL, LCL, and posterolateral corner immediately. They then rehabilitate the patient and work to regain knee motion before returning weeks or months later to address the ACL and PCL.
While surgery can provide a stable knee, returning to high-level sports is difficult. Often the knee gets stiff despite extensive physical therapy. Recovering from surgery and returning to normal activities, let alone exercise and sports is a long process.
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