With the physical stress involved, rugby and other contact sports can be a common source of ligament injury.
Over a million sports injuries occur every year in the UK. A good proportion will be minor but of those requiring medical treatment, over 70% involve the lower limbs. Sports trauma accounts for half the knee injuries seen in medical practice.
Hip injuries also occur, particularly to tendons, or the labral tissue surrounding the hip joint, or fluid filled sacs meant to cushion the hip. The ball and socket joint can become misshapen, causing issues in itself, or damaging the cartilage.
Long term wear can contribute to osteoarthritis in the hip, although replacement surgery at a young age is unusual and hip injuries less common in general. The majority of sports injuries we treat are in the knee, or surrounding tissues.
Sports Knee Injuries
Your knee joint can need to cope with a force equal to five times your body weight if fully flexed, or three times the weight just climbing stairs. Add in the movement involved with many sports and injuries are not surprising.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, helping to keep the knee stable and control the back and forth motion of your knee. Damage to this ligament is common and significant.
Other ligaments, such as the medial collateral ligament (MCL) or lateral collateral ligament (LCL) perform control functions and can sustain damage. Meniscal (cartilage) tears often feature amongst sports injuries to the knee.
As with the hip, knee wear and injury can contribute to later osteoarthritis, although prompt treatment should reduce risk. As importantly, this can help participants return to activity which is an important part of their life.
Types Of Treatment
Accurate diagnosis is provided for lower limb sports injuries, through the skills of an experienced consultant and x-rays, ultrasound, or MRI scans where required. A range of solutions are available, to suit each patient's needs.
Non Surgical Treatment
Corticosteroid injections are commonly offered prior to surgery, often allowing this to be avoided. Physiotherapy is essential to achieve full recovery and can be helpful in improving movement patterns which trigger injuries.
A tailored approach can help with damage to areas around the knee, or hip joint, or to related cartilage. Wherever the injury lies, a critical aspect of care is:
Repairing Damaged Ligaments
Tears in the anterior cruciate ligament result from a number of sports and can be successfully reconstructed. We use an approach which minimises the loss of tendon strength elsewhere and is performed using keyhole surgery techniques.
Other ligaments including the medial and lateral collaterals, or posterior cruciate ligament can be torn. They are also able to be reconstructed through:
Kneecap & Cartilage Treatment
Patella (kneecap) dislocation is a common sports issue, which can involve tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament. This can be repaired using a modern technique called MPFL reconstruction, along with relocating the patella.
Advanced techniques are also available where damage is to the cartilage, including the osteochondral autograft transplantation system (OATS). Cartilage tears in younger patients are normally managed by repair, rather than removal of tissue:
Auld Orthopaedics is experienced in treating sports injuries at all levels. We are pleased to treat athletes but sports orthopaedics is also for those who simply enjoy their sport, for the benefits this brings.
Every patient can expect a detailed examination, up to date medical imaging at our Northampton hospital and a treatment plan to suit them. Accurate diagnosis is key to successful treatment, and we understand the wish to return to normal activities as soon as possible.
We see a range of sports participants, from skiers, to snowboarders, footballers, rugby players, athletes, tennis, or squash players. All receive a high level of care and are welcome to contact us for a personal consultation.
All forms of treatment can assist with life returning to normal and when surgery is required, short hospital stays are a notable benefit. See the latest techniques which come together to bring: