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So Your Child Tore Their Knee Ligament: What’s Next?

If your child is active in sports (whether on a school team or with friends around the neighborhood) they are at risk for torn knee ligaments. Unfortunately, knee injuries can occur while participating in any sport that requires running and jumping – not just the rougher ones like football. The following provides information about knee injuries that you might find helpful if your child has been injured – or even if you want to be prepared just in case.

MCL and ACL Knee Injuries

The two most common knee injuries involve the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Ligaments function by attaching bones to other bones – so if they are torn or strained they can cause pain that ranges from minor to very severe.

Treatment for your child’s knee injury can range from simply resting the leg for a few days to the need for surgery. If the injury involves a strain or minor tear to the ligaments, there’s a good chance the injury will heal itself within two weeks and not require treatment. However, if there is swelling in the knee and/or severe pain, you will need to bring your child to a doctor as soon as possible.

If your child has a serious tear to the knee ligaments, treatment options can range from the use of a knee brace and crutches for a number of weeks to undergoing surgery, followed by physical therapy.

How to Care for Your Child at Home

Following surgery or alternate treatment for your child’s knee injury, your doctor will give you instructions to care for your child during recovery. Here are a few basic tips for caring for your child at home:

  • Make sure your child follows instructions about placing weight on the knee and using crutches properly.
  • Put a cold pack on the knee for 20 minutes every two hours to reduce swelling during the first three days. Place a thin cloth between the cold pack and your child’s skin.
  • Prop your child’s leg up with pillows to elevate it when sitting or lying down for the first three days.
  • If your child was given a knee brace, make sure he or she wears it as directed.
  • If your child was given an elastic bandage, it should be worn snug but not too tight (there should be no tingling, numbness or swelling below the bandage).
  • Seek medical attention immediately if there is severe or worsening pain in the knee – or numbness, tingling or weakness in the foot or leg.

Following these tips can help ensure that your child recovers as quickly and comfortably as possible.

DISCLAIMER: Always consult your physician before acting on any medical advice or tips you may receive – including those involving medical procedures, exercises, lifestyle changes, supplements, vitamins, etc. Lafayette General Orthopaedic Hospital is not responsible for any adverse effects experienced by persons who act upon advice without prior approval from a qualified physician.