New ligament found in knee

November 19, 2013


New ligament found in knee

It practically goes without saying that the knee is one of the most important joints in the body - and this makes it one of the most vital parts overall. For serious players of any sport or athletic discipline, taking care of the knees in every way possible has to be a cornerstone of athletic injury prevention. Along those lines, those charged with taking care of athletes, such as coaches, trainers and (in the case of student players) parents, should also be sure to stress knee protection.

As evidence of why this is important, consider the amount of injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament - one of the knee's most important components - that occur every year in athletic situations. According to a study jointly conducted by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, approximately 150,000 ACL injuries take place on an annual basis in the United States, engendering about $500 million in health care expenses every year. An ACL tear can greatly endanger or prematurely end an athletic career.

Additionally, it is worthwhile to keep abreast of developments in sports medicine and orthopaedic research that are relevant to athletes' well-being. Most recently, two Belgian orthopaedic experts discovered something that could be quite significant - a new part of the knee.

New ligament plays part in ACL injuries
Professors Steven Claes, M.D., and Johan Bellemans, M.D., at University Hospitals Leuwen in Belgium, discovered a previously unknown ligament within the knee that has some bearing on the all-important ACL. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Anatomy, they found that the new part, which they have termed the anterolateral ligament, caused the phenomenon of pivot shift in patients who've torn their ACLs. Because pivot shift - where the knee suddenly gives out and causes pain and a potential collapse - can affect individuals who have sustained ACL injuries even long after the typical recovery period is over, this discovery could alter approaches to orthopaedic treatment.

The work conducted by these experts serves as the definitive answer to a question first posed in 1879 by French surgeons in a journal article. At the time, the piece's authors believed that another ligament was connected to the knee beyond those already known, but lacked the means to properly understand its anatomy and role within the knee as a whole.

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