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Your knee is the largest joint in the body, consisting of multiple ligaments connecting the thigh and lower leg bones. The joint is also one that takes the most wear and tear when we walk and play sports. The knee is formed by three bones that are held in place by ligaments.
There are collateral ligaments on the sides of the knee and cruciate ligaments that support the front and back of the joint. Often described as strong ropes, these ligaments work together to stabilize the knee joint. The ligaments can be injured, most often by a rapid change of direction. These sprains that occur are graded based on severity.
;One of the more common injuries is in the ACL. For a single tear, the surgeon may recommend conservative treatment at first. An ACL tear typically cannot be repaired through stitching. It requires a tissue graft that acts as a support for new ligament growth. The tissue can come from the patient or a cadaver.
When multiple ligaments are injured, you normally need immediate surgical intervention to help stabilize the knee before too much inflammation causes permanent damage to the joint.
Orthopaedic surgeons can determine the severity of a knee injury through a minimally invasive procedure called arthroscopy. Not only can this procedure assess damage, the surgeon can make immediate repairs to the knee.
The procedure is done under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes several tiny incisions around the knee, injects a fluid to clean the joint and inserts a fiber optic camera into the joint to send detailed images of the site to a television monitor. The orthopaedic surgeon can see throughout the joint to determine what steps are needed to repair the knee.
In the past, knee surgery was performed as an open surgery and required a weeklong hospitalization and several months of recovery. With the newer minimally invasive procedures, you are back on your feet quickly and can return to activities more quickly. While in some cases, athletes may take longer to return to their sport, simple activities of daily living can be enjoyed much earlier.
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