What is MMA Fighting?

Mixed martial arts, more commonly known as MMA, is a competitive combat sport that involves two competitors that utilize a variety of martial arts techniques to achieve dominance over their opponent. These techniques include:

  • Punches
  • Kicks
  • Joint-locks
  • Chokes
  • Takedowns
  • Throws

The most well-known organization associated with MMA is the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC). This organization holds more than 40 UFC fights each year, with the top fighters in the world competing on center stage in-front of millions of viewers.

As popularity for the sport grows world-wide, more athletes are starting to participate in MMA. Due to the high physical demands of MMA, acute and chronic MMA knee injuries are common. Dr. Mark Getelman is available to treat MMA fighters in Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Greater Los Angeles communities who sustain an ACL tear or MCL injury from MMA competition and training.

Knee MMA Injuries

The knee is the largest joint in the body. Due to the complex knee anatomy, the knee is vulnerable to a variety of injuries. Bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons make up the knee joint. The four main stabilizers in the knee include:

These ligaments work together to prevent unnatural movements between the tibia and femur. During MMA fighting, the knees undergo a lot of stress. The joint is often twisted or forced into abnormal positions to achieve certain fighting maneuvers. In MMA, the heel hook maneuver can cause significant injury to the ACL and MCL. It is common for MMA athletes to experience an ACL tear or MCL injury during training or fights.

ACL Tear in MMA

As the central stabilizer in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. The ACL helps prevent the shin bone from pivoting or sliding out in front of the thigh bone. An ACL tear typically occurs when an MMA athlete suddenly changes direction or stops with a hyperextension stress. These movements can cause the knee to buckle and shift causing an ACL tear. A direct blow to the to the knee can also cause an ACL tear.

MCL Injury in MMA

As one of the side-to-side stabilizer in the knee, the MCL is susceptible to injury during MMA. An MCL injury occurs when the outer side of the knee suffers a severe direct blow, causing the knee to cave in. During MMA, direct impact to the side of the knee from an opponent or an awkward landing out of jump or kick can cause an MCL injury.

Treatment Options for Knee MMA Injuries

Knee ligament injuries can range from mild sprains to complete tears. When an MMA fighter experiences an ACL tear or MCL injury, Dr. Getelman encourages the athlete to discontinue the painful movement until a thorough physical exam is performed by a trained physician.

The severity of the injury, will dictate the proper treatment plan. Non-surgical treatment options such as rest, ice, heat, bracing, activity modification and a physical therapy program may help treat an incomplete ACL tear and most MCL injuries. For athletes with high grade ACL tears or severe avulsion MCL injuries that wish to return to MMA fighting, Dr. Getelman recommends surgical treatment for to help prevent re-injury, or a more severe injury and ongoing instability in the future.

Have you experienced an ACL tear or MCL injury during MMA? Do you need advice on how to recover? Do you want more information on preventing MMA knee injuries? Leave a comment below!

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