Knee Ligament Injuries

Ligament tears and sprains are common knee injuries that can cause pain, instability, and swelling.  

Sporting injuries, in particular, high-speed or twisting activities, can strain, tear or detach the knee ligaments. A tear is painful and can drastically limit knee movement. After the initial trauma, you may be unable to weight bear. After the swelling settles, your knee may feel unstable, and it may be uncomfortable to rotate or turn your leg.

The Knee Specialists at The London Orthopaedic Clinic offer rapid assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of sporting injuries and knee ligament tears. The world-renowned orthopaedic surgeons can evaluate the damage and tailor treatment to your needs and your lifestyle. 

The surgeons use non-invasive treatments wherever possible. However, if surgery is needed, the specialists use innovative technologies and the latest minimally-invasive surgical techniques to repair or reconstruct the torn ligament, relieve pain, and restore your fitness and function.

What is a knee ligament tear?

Ligaments are tough, fibrous bands that surround and support our joints. There are four major ligaments around the knee. They work together to link the thigh bone to the shin, keep the knee joint stable, and limit its range of movement.

The main knee ligaments include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament: The ACL forms a cross shape as it passes over the Posterior Cruciate Ligament in the middle of the knee. It controls knee rotation and prevents excessive forward movement of the tibia or shin bone.
  • Posterior cruciate ligament: The PCL crosses under the ACL in the centre of the knee. It controls the tibia moving backwards.
  • Medial collateral ligament: The MCL is on the inside of the knee and stabilises the inner knee.
  • Lateral collateral ligament: The LCL is on the outside of the knee and acts to stabilise the outer knee.


Complete or partial ligament tears can happen when an acute injury stresses or twists the knee joint. ACL ligament tears are often caused by sporting injuries, for example, in football, skiing or racket sports. A direct blow may stretch and tear the collateral ligaments, and the PCL can be damaged by a sudden impact from a sporting tackle or a car crash.

Ligament injuries can be graded according to the degree of damage:

  • Grade 1: This is a mild injury. The ligament is stretched but not torn. You may experience mild pain and some swelling. The knee should remain stable and surgery is not necessary. 
  • Grade 2 : This is a moderate injury in which the ligament is partially ruptured. You will notice more severe pain, increased swelling and there will be bruising due to bleeding from the tear. You will be unable to bear weight on the leg.
  • Grade 3. This is the most severe injury. The ligament is completely torn causing severe pain, swelling and bruising. You will not be able to walk and the knee may feel unstable and out of position.

What are the symptoms of knee ligament tears?

If you have a tear in the knee ligament, you may feel a pop or snap together with swelling and pain. Most people can’t bear weight on the injured limb, and your leg may give way when you try to walk. 

Over the following week or two, the pain and swelling should gradually settle. However, the knee may still feel weak and unstable. You may feel that the knee gives way or buckles at times, particularly if you’ve had a total tear. 

The symptoms of ligament sprains and tears and cartilage injuries can overlap. It’s also common to have several problems in the same knee. The world-leading orthopaedic consultants at the London Orthopaedic Clinic are experts in the investigation, diagnosis, and treatment of knee problems. If knee pain, swelling, and instability are affecting your mobility or your ability to live an active life, they can uncover the cause and treat it effectively.

How can the London Orthopaedic Clinic help with knee ligament injuries?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic has a specialist hip and knee unit run by expert consultant surgeons. The Clinic offers a same-day service for the comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis of knee injuries. 

The world-leading orthopaedic specialists will take your medical history, examine your knee, and find out the effect it is having on your life. They may arrange investigations to get more detailed information about the ligament damage and the overall health of your knee. The Clinic’s state-of-the-art imaging suite provides X-rays, ultrasound, and the latest Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning. 

The surgeons will create a bespoke treatment plan targeted to your knee, bearing in mind your lifestyle and your individual needs. This can include:

  • Self-help advice: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can reduce pain and swelling and help minor ligament tears settle.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Regular anti-inflammatories can ease discomfort as you recover.
  • Physiotherapy: Expert physiotherapy can help when the initial pain and swelling have eased. Treatment can help strengthen the muscles, stabilise the knee, and increase the range of movement.
  • Knee brace: A high-tech knee brace can support and protect the knee, allowing you to return to sporting activities.

If the tear is severe or complete, your joint is unstable, or if conservative measures have not provided relief, the consultant orthopaedic surgeons can operate to repair or reconstruct the ligament. 

Most medial collateral ligament tears do not require surgery. However, in more severe injuries, the surgeon may need to repair or reattach the ligament. Some injuries, in particular, a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, do not heal even when surgically repaired. In these cases, an ACL reconstruction should be considered.

  • Knee arthroscopy: Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive, or 'keyhole' operation for the investigation and treatment of knee problems. Through the arthroscope, your surgeon can carefully examine the knee joint. They can repair or reattach any collateral ligament tears, treat cartilage tears, and also remove any loose tissue fragments. 
  • ACL reconstruction: Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is minimally-invasive surgery to remove a torn ACL and either replace it with a tendon from another part of your body or graft a tendon from a donor.

Why choose the London Orthopaedic Clinic?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic provides high-quality, expert orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care, tailored to the individual needs of our patients. The Clinic is based at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, at the heart of London’s internationally renowned Harley Street medical district. The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers cutting-edge diagnostics, treatment, management and personalised care.

The expert multi-disciplinary team includes more than 25 leading orthopaedic surgeons, pain management specialists and radiologists. They work together to reduce pain, improve movement and make a real difference to patients’ lives.

The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers patients something truly unique: access to world-leading experts, high-tech imaging and the latest innovative treatments, together with the feeling of trust and safety of a small family practice.

Knee ligament tear treatment costs

Your health insurance policy may cover the investigation and treatment of ligament tears at the London Orthopaedic Clinic. Competitive packages are also available for self-paying patients. Contact a member of our friendly team on 020 7186 1000 or at to find out more.