The Unhappy Triad

The Unhappy Triad, ACL, MCL, blown knee“The unhappy triad” (also referred to as terrible triad or horrible triangle) is a common injury to the knee that is often seen in contact sports such as football, rugby, and basketball. It consists of tears to three major ligaments in the knee: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and medial meniscus. The injury often occurs due to considerable force to the lateral part of the knee, for example, when a football player takes a rough tackle.

The three parts of the knee that are injured play important parts in the anatomy and movement of the leg. The ACL prevents the tibia from moving forward on the femur, as well as hyperextension of the knee. The MCL is responsible for preventing valgus force or overextension of the inner knee. And the medial meniscus serves as a shock absorber for impacts in the knee joint. In order to diagnosis the injury, a patient must undergo a MRI.

Patients with an unhappy triad injury experience above all, extreme pain. Other symptoms include a popping or tearing sound, rapid and considerable swelling, inability to move the lower leg, and instability in knee. Initial treatment consists of immediate immobilization, rest, and ice. Depending on the severity of the tears, surgery will be required. Key to recovery is the rehabilitation after surgery. This includes an extensive regime of physical therapy focused on regaining the strength and range of motion. The rehabilitation process usually lasts 6-9 months.
Strengthening hip and knee muscles and stretching prior to physical activities are always key in preventing injuries; however, this particular injury is often unfortunately the result of unavoidable circumstances.

Posted in: Knee

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