Have you ever wondered how your knee works?

It functions like a complex machine.


Your knee is actually made up of three bones, your thighbone (femur), your shinbone (tibia), and your kneecap (patella). These three bones are held in place by your muscles, tendons and four ligaments. The ligaments help stabilize your knee and control its movement.

The collateral ligaments support the inside (medial) and the outside (lateral) of your knee. They stabilize the side-to-side motion.

The cruciate ligaments support and control the forward and backward motion of the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL is located inside the front of the knee. It runs diagonally across the knee under your kneecap. The ACL crosses the posterior cruciate ligament or PCL, which stabilizes the back of the knee. The ACL controls the forward movement while the PCL keeps the knee from hyperextending backward.

When the ligaments are injured, they stretch and tear. This type of injury is technically categorized as a sprain. However, many people refer to the injury as a torn ligament. Each ligament injury is graded based on its severity.

  • Grade 1 – Ligaments have been stretched slightly, but are still able to provide stability.
  • Grade 2 – Ligaments have been stretched to the point of being loose and may have partial tears.
  • Grade 3 – Ligaments are actually torn into two pieces.

Ligament injuries often occur with damage to the meniscus, the cartilage that cushions your knee; articular cartilage; or other ligaments. If a ligament is torn, it will not grow back together. It will need to be reconstructed using a tissue graft.

Several surgeons at the Affinity Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center have the training and expertise to repair torn ligaments. The orthopedic team at Affinity is dedicated to gettin you back in motion. Call them at (920) 996-3700.


Acension Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center

Madison Center at Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital
1531 S. Madison St.
4th floor
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 996-3700

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1506 S. Oneida St
Appleton, WI 54915
(920) 738-2000

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