Sports injuries to the knee are very common and can range from mild to severe. The complex motions that athletes perform involving the knee joint - repeated twisting or pivoting, frequent stopping and starting, or swift directional changes - can cause damage to both cartilage and ligaments.
ACL: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located inside the front of the knee. It’s responsible for stabilizing the knee joint from front to back. ACL injury frequently occurs in athletes that stop and start suddenly, or change direction in mid-motion.
PCL: The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located inside the back of the knee and stabilizes the joint, keeping the tibia from moving too far backwards. Damage to the PCL requires extreme force, such as a direct hit to the knee. A PCL injury is generally not as severe as an ACL injury, and often will heal on its own.
MCL: The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located along the inside of the knee, connecting the femur and tibia bones of the leg to stabilize and limit sideways movement at the joint. The MCL is one of the most commonly injured ligaments, and occurs when the knee sustains a direct hit from the outside of the knee.
Meniscal tear: The meniscus is a thick layer of cartilage that acts as a shock-absorber between the femur and tibia bones in the knee. It protects the harder layer of cartilage that lines the ends of the bones. In severe injuries such as a direct hit to the knee, or excessive twisting, the meniscus can tear and cause severe pain and swelling.