Knee is one of the largest and most complex joint in the human body. Knee plays an important role in making movements. Ligaments in the knee connects to the thigh and lower leg bones. Tears and sprains of the knee ligaments are very common in sports. Athletes are the common group of people who experience collateral ligament injuries more often. The collateral ligaments are found on the sides of the knee. The collateral ligaments play a vital role in controlling the sideway movements of the knee and supports the knee from making unusual movements.
What is collateral ligament injury?
The ligaments get easily injured as the knee joint relies on it for stability. The knee ligament or collateral ligament can get injured by any direct contact to the knee or a hard contraction of the muscle. It can happen while running or changing the knee joint direction rapidly. Collateral ligament injuries are considered as “sprains” and classified based on their severity.
Grade 1 sprains: Mild damages to the ligament is called Grade 1 sprains. They will not cause any instability to the knee joint.
Grade 2 sprains: Moderate damage to the ligaments, which stretches and loosen the ligament. Grade 2 sprains are also known as “partial tear of the ligament”.
Grade 3 sprains: A complete tear of the ligament is considered as “grade 3 sprains”. Such injuries caused the ligament to split into two pieces. As a result, the knee joint loses stability.
What causes collateral ligament injury?
A force that pressure the knee to move sideways is the main cause for collateral ligament injury. Contact injuries are most common cause for ligament injuries. But, it is not always necessary. Direct blow to the knee may result in medial collateral ligament tear. A medial collateral ligament tear may push the knee inward. Lateral collateral ligament injury occurs due to blow to the inside of the knee.
What are the symptoms of collateral ligament injury?
Pain at the sides of the knee
Pain on the inside of the knee- symptom of MCL injury
Pain on the outside of the knee- symptoms of the LCL injury
Swelling, especially over the injured area
Instability to the knee joint
How is collateral injury diagnosed?
The doctor will first have a physical examination and previous medical history check up. The doctor will be able to diagnose a ligament injury through physical examination itself. However, to confirm the result, the doctor may suggest other imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans.
How is collateral ligament injury treated?
Surgery may not be necessary to the MCL injury. An LCL injury may be similar with the treatments for MCL sprain. If the LCL injury involves other structures of knee, it may require much complex treatments. There are nonsurgical as well as surgical treatments for collateral ligament injury.
Ice: Icing is an important method that helps in the healing process. Applying crushed ice directly to the injured area is the proper way of icing.
Bracing: Bracing is to protect the injured ligament from stress and injuries.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy and exercise will help to strenthen the leg muscles and restore the functions.
Surgery is required in very rare cases. If the collateral ligament is completely torn, which cannot be cured with other treatment options, it may require a surgery to repair the tear.
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