Torn cruciate ligaments of the knee in basketball players
A cruciate ligament tear is one of the most common injuries in basketball. It occurs most of the time when a simple and quick change of support (not well set), during contact or poor reception after a jump. This injury is common and known to physiotherapists.
What does the cruciate ligament look like?
The "crosses" form a central axial ligament at the knee. We have two on each side: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
In most cases, the anterior cruciate ligament is torn. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is rarely affected.
Ligament is a structure consisting of elastic fibers capable of withstanding significant mechanical stresses (traction, torsion, shear, etc.). If the forces applied to this ligament are too great, it risks rupture.
Contrary to what one might imagine, we live relatively well without the cruciate ligament! In fact, the discomfort in daily activities (walking, going up/down stairs, etc.) will be minimal or non-existent. On the other hand, in sports practice, the knee is more stressed. Thus the instability can lead to further discomfort.
Do not hesitate to seek advice from a specialist (orthopedic surgeon, sports doctor) to decide on the procedure.
Cruciate ligaments: why do they break in basketball?
In basketball, support changes are frequent. It is a pivotal sport par excellence! A pivot sport is any activity that requires shifting body weight over the leg. Then the knee plays a central role and is subject to significant limitations!
Repetitive contact with the opponent and jumping increases the risk of rupture of the cruciate ligaments. In fact, contact can cause a violent twisting of the knee. If the muscles around the joint are not toned and alert enough, the ligaments will suddenly stretch and then run the risk of breaking.
The muscles protect the ligaments effectively!
Each individual has a special ligament structure. Obviously we are all different. Some have "loose" knees, others less so. Some have strong laces and some are less! So they are more susceptible to infection.
To prevent the risk of injury, we highly recommend regular specific stimulation training.
These exercises aim to improve muscle alertness. At the slightest amount of instability, the joint is protected and firmly fixed by the quadriceps muscles.
What happens next?
If your knee is severely sprained and the pain is severe, it is recommended that you consult a medical professional. When in doubt, they may refer you for an additional examination.
An MRI of the knee can confirm or not confirm a cruciate ligament tear. On the other hand, X-rays depict the condition of the bones and cartilage but not the ligaments.
In the days following the injury, the joint swells. This phenomenon is called effusion and is completely normal. To reduce this swelling, it is advisable to apply ice to the joint as regularly as possible.
We also recommend leg elevation and pressure around the joint. After that, you will have to pursue a serious rehabilitation with a physiotherapist. This rehabilitation process, followed over a period of several months, will allow you to restore a functional knee before resuming moderate sports activity (running, swimming, cycling).