Doctors Discover New Knee LigamentHeather Neal
It’s not a birthday, a holiday, or a wedding anniversary.
It’s the last day I ran. Really ran, not half-walk-hobbled.
It’s the day I destroyed my knee because I wouldn’t quit.
That should be a good thing, right? Not quitting when the going gets tough. Not this time. I was in the middle of a marathon relay when I felt sharp, stabbing pain in my left knee, so painful I was forced to walk. I’d never walked in a race before. I knew the next leg of the race was waiting for me and it looked like we were on track for a good finish time. I started running again. And running and running, thinking of anything but the blinding pain in my knee. I’ve never had knee problems, I’ll just need some ice. That’s what I told myself. I ran until I passed off my timing chip. Then I threw up, then I couldn’t walk. It was a great race. (No.)
More than three years later I still can’t run. I pushed through the pain when I clearly should have stopped. Maybe I’d still be running if I’d known when to say when. But I didn’t and here I am with an injured knee. Over the past three years I’ve been to doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors. I’ll stick with my therapy religiously until I realize I still can’t run without pain. A few months later I try again. Sometimes with the same doc, sometimes with a new one. This time I decided to try a new one and I think I hit the jackpot.
Apparently three years ago I didn’t aggravate my IT band or my patella. I tore my meniscus. I displaced my femur. I royally screwed up my knee. With a proper diagnosis, maybe I can actually, truly heal this time. The diagnosis took so long because I have a lateral tear, which often doesn’t show up on MRIs. While it sounds absurd, this isn’t the only knee injury that’s easily missed. Doctors recently discovered a new knee ligament.
A counterpart to the meniscus, the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a common knee injury that often results in surgery. The problem is not everyone’s knee gets better with surgery, making it frustrating for both the doctor and the patient. This new knee ligament may be the hidden explanation. This ligament, named the anterolateral ligament, or ALL, runs across the front of the knee and often gives way when the ACL tears. For those that still have knee pain after having their ACL repaired, fixing the ALL may be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Researchers in Belgium discovered this ligament that helps with knee stability by exploring knees of cadavers after being tipped of by a theory published in a 1879 paper. It’s not often that a new part of the human body is discovered and this knowledge could help improve knee surgery techniques in the years to come.