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YOUR KNEE AND HOW IT WORKS: LIGAMENTS

Ligaments are strong, tough bands of white fibrous connective tissue, which link bones to bones. In the knee, ligaments primarily provide strength and stability from front to back, side to side, and rotational. There are several ligaments in the knee, however, the most important ones are the medial collateral ligament, the lateral collateral ligament, the anterior cruciate ligament, and the posterior cruciate ligaments.

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs down the inside of your knee joint, connecting the femur to the tibia and limiting the sideways motion of your knee. There are two parts: the superficial, which is longer, stronger, and more important, and the deep MCL. The MCL is vulnerable to a blow from the side, typical of contact sports such as football. If this ligament is injured, the knee may feel weak and wobbly.

The lateral collateral ligament (sometimes called the fibula collateral ligament) runs on the outside of your knee from the femur to the fibula and limits sideways motion.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), located deep in your knee, connects the femur to the tibia in the center of your knee, limiting rotation and the forward motion of the tibia. The ACL is especially vulnerable to injury caused by a sudden twisting motion.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), also located deep in the knee, connects the femur to the tibia, limiting the backward motion of the knee. The PCL is the strongest ligament and is usually injured with more extreme force, such as a car accident.

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