What are knee ligaments?
A Ligament is a short band of fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone. In some cases ligaments limit or prevent a particular movement in a joint.
In the knee there are four recognised ligaments:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
Damage to the ligaments
Ligament damage is a common knee injury and is usually the result of one, or a combination of, the following:
- Blunt force to the knee
- Sudden change of direction
- Landing badly
- Twisting at the knee
- Hyper-extension of the knee
Ligament damage is normally classified into grades, with grade 1 being the least and grade 3 being the most severe. Symptoms, management and recovery times vary between grades.
In a grade 1 injury a ligament stretches but the tissue does not tear. The likely outcome will be pain, swelling and in some cases a feeling of instability. The grade 1 injury will most likely heal on its own over a few weeks but interventions such as pain relief, supports, electrotherapy and rehabilitation are beneficial. Grade 1 injuries sometimes result in a lasting weakness and this can increase the chance of re-injury.
With a grade 2 injury the ligament is partially torn but still intact. Symptoms include swelling, bruising and pain. It is often difficult to use the joint due to the levels of pain and swelling and it may be very uncomfortable to bear weight.
A return to activity after 6 weeks is the usual time frame for a grade 2 injury and it is highly advisable to seek professional guidance for rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the knee.
A grade 3 injury is often referred to as a full tear of the ligament. There will normally be severe pain at the time of the injury however this sometimes quickly subsides (as the pain nerves are also torn). A normal inflammatory response will be seen with swelling and bruising.
The knee will have a large degree of instability and may ‘give way’ during certain movements. A weight bearing knee brace is recommended in the first instance and surgery is often required to repair the damage. Recovery may take anything from 3-12 months and professional medical intervention is essential to ensure the optimal outcome.
How does a BodyHelix Knee support help?
Whichever grade of ligament injury you have the RICE mnemonic is applicable to control the pain and swelling. As BodyHelix knee supports provide the most effective uniform compression of any supports on the market, we can certainly help with the “C” (compression) of rice, thus aiding in the reduction swelling post-injury.
The benefit of a BodyHelix support in this initial stage is not only its superior compression but also its comfort. Once in place it will not move and the high level of elasticity means that there is no tourniquet effect and no digging in or pinching of sensitive and painful areas.
A BodyHelix knee support will also help you as your rest, recovery and rehabilitation progresses. The increased warmth provided by the form-fit support of a BodyHelix will increase the flow of blood to the knee joint aiding the supply of oxygen and nutrients to help repair damaged tissue.
As the rehabilitation begins or, in the case of grade 1 injuries, as you start to increase your activity you need to move the knee as much as you can, in order to prevent the joint from stiffening and to strengthen the surrounding muscles. However, you do not want to move the knee too much, so that it causes re-injury or worsens the existing injury.
The key is to mobilise and load the knee in a controlled manner, within the limits of pain. Restrictive supports will not only prevent movement of the knee they can result in the muscles becoming reliant on the brace. With a BodyHelix knee support you get protection from excess load and stresses with no restriction of movement. You can achieve your rehabilitation potential more quickly, in more comfort with more security.
Making the right choice
If you are going to seek the proven benefits of a knee support you will want to be looking at one that is the most comfortable to wear. Designed by orthopaedic surgeons who were fed up with conventional supports slipping and bunching behind the knee, BodyHelix has been designed with comfort and practicality in mind.
The superior stretch allows expansion that moves with the wearer, without causing restriction, and contraction that provides superior support with a non-slip guarantee.
Ligament damage?...Put a Helix on it!
Ben Scott, BSc (hons)