Torn ligament in the knee

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Torn ligaments on the knee

What is a torn ligament in the knee?

The knee is a joint. Joints make body parts mobile. The knee connects the thigh and lower leg. There are several ligaments on the knee joint. The ligaments hold the bones together in the knee joint. And the ligaments make the joint stable. The knee joint is held in place by these ligaments:

  • Outer band
  • Inner band
  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • posterior cruciate ligament

The ligaments in the knee can overstretch. The ligaments in the knee can even tear. In most cases, multiple ligaments will tear at once.

The ligaments in the knee partially tear? Then the doctor speaks of a partial tear. The technical term for a partial tear is: partial tear.

The ligaments in your knee tear completely? Then the doctor speaks of a torn ligament in the knee. The technical term for a ligament tear is: ligament rupture.

The picture shows the ligaments in the knee.

© W & B / Szczesny

What happens if I tear a ligament in my knee?

The ligaments in the knee are stressed when moving. When there is a lot of movement, the ligaments are particularly stressed. This often happens especially when doing sports. The bands can:

  • overstretch
  • tug
  • tear

There are several types of ligament rupture:

  • Outer ligament tear
  • Inner ligament tear
  • Cruciate ligament tear

Has the tape broken completely? Then the doctor speaks of a torn ligament in the knee.

What are the causes of a torn ligament in the knee?

A torn ligament in the knee is common in sports. In some sports, an athlete has to change direction very quickly. The knee can twist and a ligament in the knee can tear. Such fast sports include, for example:

  • Soccer
  • Handball
  • basketball
  • tennis

A ligament tear in the knee can also happen while skiing or other sports.

Would you like to avoid tearing a ligament in your knee? Then always warm up well before exercising.

How can you tell if you have torn a ligament in your knee?

A torn ligament has several signs such as:

  • sudden and severe pain,
  • a thick and swollen knee,
  • the knee feels wobbly,
  • the knee can no longer be moved easily.

What can you do about a torn knee ligament?

A torn ligament in the knee should always be treated by a doctor.

You can relieve the knee immediately after a sports accident in the following ways:

  • save your knee,
  • put the leg up with the injured knee,
  • cool the injured knee,
  • apply an elastic pressure bandage.

Caution: Do not cool the area for too long. And don't put the cold pack directly on the skin. This can damage the skin.

How is a torn knee ligament treated?

A torn ligament in the knee needs treatment. There are two ways to do this:

  1. The doctor decides: you do conservative therapy. That means: the bond grows back together by itself. Then you get crutches. Or you can get a splint. The splint immobilizes the injured ligaments in the knee. So they can heal.


  1. The doctor can also decide: You will have surgical treatment. Then the injured ligament has to be operated on. The tape is sewn or replaced. The reasons for surgical therapy are, for example:
  • the knee joint is unstable,
  • several ligaments are injured,
  • Bones in the knee joint are injured.

The doctor will talk to you about the risks of an operation. And the doctor will give you all the important information.

After conservative and surgical therapy, the doctor often decides: You are going to do physiotherapy.

In physical therapy, you train the muscles in your legs. This will make your knee stable again. And with physiotherapy you train your coordination. You can also control your movements better again.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about the torn knee ligament? You can find more information about the torn ligament in the knee here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.

knee