What are Knee Ligaments?

Knee Ligaments are thick rope like bands made up of fibrous tissues. We can classify ligaments in two sets depending on their position related to knee joint anatomy and knee bones.

  1. Cruciate Knee Ligaments
  2. Collateral Knee Ligaments

Depending on the direction of force applied on knee joint they provide stability by preventing the force to take the bone in direction far enough to cause knee ligament injuries and knee ligament pain.

Cruciate Knee Ligaments

There are 2 Cruciate Knee Ligaments providing Anterior to Posterior stability to Knee Joint and thus are very important in preventing knee injuries.

As the name suggest they are:

  1. Anterior Cruciate Knee Ligament (ACL)
  2. Posterior Cruciate Knee Ligament (PCL)

This are the thick bands of rope like structures located inside the knee joint. They run from lower end of femur (Thigh bone) to upper end of tibial plateau(a flat surface on superior part of Tibia). They cross each other and thus form "X" shape in the joint cavity of knee.

They are as thick as a pencil and are very strong. They have proprioception sensation in them thus they can feel the knee positioning in relation to center of gravity of human body.

Their main job is to provide antero-posterior stability and thus preventing excessive movement of tibia in relation to femur.

It is very important to understand their function to understand knee ligament pain and knee ligament pain associated with common knee injuries.

Let us see and compare anterior and posterior cruciate knee ligaments in following section.

Anterior Cruciate Knee Ligaments

ACL runs from distal femur to anterior surface of tibial plateau and attaches in front of intercondylar eminence with anterior horn of medial meniscus.

It prevents excessive anterior translation and also to some extent medial rotation of tibia on femur.

When sudden unexpected force exerted on knee from behind like in contact sports or road traffic accident ACL gets ruptured.

ACL knee ligament injury can be detected by Anterior Drawer test performed by knee replacement surgeons and therapists.



Posterior Cruciate Knee Ligaments

PCL runs from posterior surface of Tibia to medial side of Femur. It connects posterior intercondylar area to lower medial end of femur.

Its shorter than ACL but its so strong and thus does not get injured easily.

Injury to PCL is rare but happens in contact sports like football when sudden force exerted on tibia from in front of athlete.

PCL knee ligament injury is diagnosed by posterior drawer test performed by knee replacement surgeons and therapists.


Collateral Knee Ligaments

There are 2 collateral Knee Ligaments providing medial to lateral stability to Knee Joint and thus are very important in preventing knee injuries.

As the name suggest they are:

  1. Medial collateral Knee Ligament (MCL)
  2. Lateral collateral Knee Ligament (PCL)

As they are located on medial and lateral side of knee joint they provide medial to lateral stability of knee joint. They are not intraarticular meaning they are on outer side of knee joints in comparison to cruciate knee ligaments which are intracapsular ligaments.

Their main job is to provide mediolateral knee joint stability and are easily get damaged by external forces as they are not very strong in compare to cruciate ligaments.


Medial collateral knee ligaments

Also called Tibial collateral ligament.

Runs from medial epicondyle of femur to medial side of tibia.

More strong and broad then lateral collateral ligament.

Mechanism of injury is when sudden force to knee from lateral side of knee can easily damage this ligament.

Lateral collateral knee ligaments

Also called fibular collateral ligament.

Runs from lateral epicondyle of femur to head of fibula.

Less strong and less broad then medial collateral ligament.

Mechanism of injury is when sudden force to knee from medial side of knee can easily damage this ligament.

Knee ligaments play very important role in maintaining structure of knee joint anatomy and thus any disruption to them can cause knee pain and knee injuries.

Go back to knee anatomy from knee ligaments.

Go back to knee replacement from knee ligaments.


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