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Complex Knee Injuries

Complex knee injuries occur when two or more of the ligaments in the knee are damaged or torn. The knee is made up of four main ligaments: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL). An example of a complex knee injury would be a tear of both the ACL and PCL, or a tear of the MCL, PCL and LCL. Knee dislocations are also associated with complex knee injuries.

Causes of Complex Knee Injuries

Complex knee injuries are typically caused by sports activity or trauma such as a fall from height or a car accident.

Types of Complex Knee Injuries


Complex knee injuries should be evaluated and diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible after the injury as they may result in disruption of blood supply to the knee. Some nerves may be damaged and if left untreated, severe cases may even require amputation. The doctor will perform a physical evaluation to determine which ligaments are torn, assessment of skin and soft tissue swelling as well as an exam to determine if any nerves or blood vessels are damaged. X-ray images will be taken to see if any fractures or dislocations are present. MRI images will be used to find out which ligaments are torn and will look for any other structural damage.

Treatment of Complex Knee Injuries

Surgery is typically needed for all cases of complex knee injuries. Usually, reconstruction surgery is performed. A diagnostic arthroscopy is performed by your surgeon to view the injured parts. A graft tissue is used from your body or a donor to perform the reconstruction of the injured tendons.

Post-operative Rehabilitation

Post-surgery rehabilitation involves working closely with a physical therapist which will be critical to regaining movement and strength. Anti-inflammatory medicine, like aspirin, may be recommended to reduce the risk of blood clotting. Recovery time may vary depending on the number of injured tendons and if any other knee structures were damaged.

Doctors Performing Complex Knee Injury Care