New England Patriot’s receiver Wes Welker sustained a knee injury today in the first quarter of a game against the Texans in Houston. Welker had just caught a pass from quarterback Tom Brady, when his left knee seemed to buckle under him. Although he limped off the field with assistance, he was later taken out to the locker room on a cart. Although the exact nature of the injury was not released, the Patriots have stated that Welker will be out for the rest of the season.
To see a video of the injury, click here.
The knee is essentially a modified hinge joint located where the end of the thigh bone (femur) meets the top of the shin bone(tibia). Four main ligaments connect these two bones:
The ACL and PCL cross each other inside the knee, forming an “X.”
The ACL is the most common ligament injured in a knee. It can be torn when a twisting force is applied to the knee while the foot is firmly planted on the ground or upon landing, or from a direct blow to the knee, usually to the outside of the knee, as may occur during a football tackle.The medial or lateral collateral ligaments can also be sprained or torn by uneven forces across the knee joint. In addition to the ligaments, injuries can cause damage to the lateral and medial menisci- the cartilage pads that cushion the knee.
As with most such injuries, care immediately after the injury consists of RICE therapy-
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Medical attention should be sought to thoroughly evaluate the injury. If the injury is mild, conservative management including immobilization with a knee brace and physical therapy may suffice. If ligaments or menisci are torn, surgery may be required to repair or replace the ligaments.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
It has been reported that Welker has torn both his ACL and MCL ligaments. This is a serious injury. When the ACL ligament is badly torn, it is not “repaired”- it has to be replaced, usually by a substitute graft made of tendon. The tendon can be taken from the patient’s own patella, hamstring or quadriceps tendon, or from a cadaver tendon. Patients treated with surgical reconstruction of the ACL have long-term success rates of 82 percent to 95 percent. Recovery from such an injury will take many months, up to as much as a year.
For an article about ACL repair, click here.