Torn Ligaments | Torn Meniscus | Fractured Kneecap
When you’re traveling in a motor vehicle, whether as driver or passenger, and you collide with another car or truck, it’s not unusual for your legs to catch much of the impact. Even at relatively low speeds, that impact can twist or hyperextend your need, causing significant injury to connective tissue such as ligaments, tendons, and muscles. In fact, knee injuries are one of the more common types of trauma associated with motor vehicle accidents.
Ligaments are short bands of tough, fibrous tissue that either hold a joint together or connect bones or cartilage. There are four different ligaments associated with the knee—the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
- PCL injury—PCL ligament injury is the one most commonly associated with a motor vehicle accident, earning it the nickname “dashboard knee.” It’s commonly caused when a driver or front seat passenger hits their knee on the dashboard after impact with another car. The PCL is located at the back of the knee and connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thighbone (femur).
- ACL tear, sprain or strain—The ACL is in the middle of your knee and prevents your shinbone from sliding out in front of your thighbone. It can often be torn or bruised by a sudden stop or deceleration, or as a result of violent twisting.
- MCL injury—The MCL connects the shinbone to the thighbone. Impact with any solid object inside or outside a car can cause trauma to the MCL.
Your meniscus is a disc-shaped section of cartilage that serves as a cushion in your knee joint. Each knee has both a medial and a lateral meniscus. The impact of a car accident can cause the meniscus to tear, either completely or with a small section hanging off the rest of the meniscus.
The impact associated with a motor vehicle accident can result in a fracture of the kneecap, but the impact must typically be by a direct blow. The telltale signs of fracture include swelling, bruising, and an inability to put weight on the knee or walk or straighten the leg.