Ligaments are soft tissue structures that attach bone to bone. The primary job of a ligament is to provide stability to a joint.
The ligaments of the hip joint act to increase stability. They can be divided into two groups – intracapsular and extracapsular:
Intracapsular: The only intracapsular ligament is the ligament of head of femur. It is a relatively small structure, which runs from the acetabular fossa to the fovea of the femur.It encloses a branch of the obturator artery (artery to head of femur), a minor source of arterial supply to the hip joint.
Extracapsular: There are three main extracapsular ligaments, continuous with the outer surface of the hip joint capsule:
- Iliofemoral ligament – arises from the anterior inferior iliac spine and then bifurcates before inserting into the intertrochanteric line of the femur. It has a ‘Y’ shaped appearance, and prevents hyperextension of the hip joint. It is the strongest of the three ligaments.
- Pubofemoral – spans between the superior pubic rami and the intertrochanteric line of the femur, reinforcing the capsule anteriorly and inferiorly. It has a triangular shape, and prevents excessive abduction and extension.
- Ischiofemoral– spans between the body of the ischium and the greater trochanter of the femur, reinforcing the capsule posteriorly. It has a spiral orientation, and prevents hyperextension and holds the femoral head in the acetabulum.
There are four main ligaments of the knee. Located on the inner aspect of the knee is the medial collateral (MCL) ligament, and on the outside is the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). These ligaments provide medial and lateral stability to the knee.
Located on the inside of the knee are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). They provide anterior, posterior and rotatory stability to the knee.
Two other soft tissue structures within the knee are the medial and lateral meniscus. These structures are attached to the tibia, and provide added stability and cushioning to the knee joint. They are cartilaginous in nature and when injured can be referred to as a “torn cartilage”.
Four major ligaments hold together the ankle. The medial part of the ankle is supported by the strong and thick deltoid ligament, and runs from the medial malleolus of the tibia to the talus, calcaneus and navicular bone of the foot and ankle complex. On the lateral side of the ankle are three ligaments running from the lateral malleolus of the fibula. Two of these – the anterior talofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament- attach to the talus. The third calcaneofibular ligament attaches to the calcaneus, or heel bone.
These ligaments give the ankle lateral support and stability. The anterior talofibular ligament is the most commonly injured ligament in the body. Lateral ankle sprains account for 85% of all ankle sprains.
Ligaments in the foot include the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament, the deltoid ligament, the long plantar ligament, and the plantar calcaneocuboid.
The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue in the foot that runs from the calcaneus or heel bone to the metatarsal heads at the base of the toes. The plantar fascia is found in the sole of the foot, and helps to support the arch of the foot. The plantar fascia can become inflamed, causing a condition known as plantar fasciitis – a common cause of foot pain.
Common conditions of the leg ligaments include:
- Hip Strains
- Ruptured Ligament of the Hip
- ACL Tear
- ACL Insufficiency
- PCL Tear
- Medial Meniscus Tear
- Lateral Meniscus Tear
- Meniscus Tear
- ACL Reconstruction
- PCL Reconstruction
- Ankle Sprain (Grades 1,2, and 3)
- Lateral Ankle Sprain
- Ankle Instability
- Ankle Ligament Tear
- Lateral Ankle Instability
- Anterior Ankle Instability Foot Sprain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Ankle Sprain
- Flat Feet (Pes Planus)
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