Collateral Ligament Injuries

Overview:

Knee is the most important joint in the body for movement. Injury to collateral ligaments of knee is more common these days. The sideway motion of the knee is controlled by collateral ligaments. They exist both inside and outside of the knee joint. The inside ligament is known as medial collateral ligament (MCL). The ligament found outside the knee joint is called lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

Causes:

A variety of causes exist for collateral ligament injury:

  • Sharp blow to the knee
  • Injury
  • Twisting of knee
  • Great strain or pressure on the knee

Symptoms:

The common symptoms seen in collateral ligament injury are:

  • Severe pain and swelling at the injury site
  • Knee instability
  • Knee catching while movement
  • Tenderness in knee

Treatments:

Immediate treatment may help in reduce possible complications of injury. The doctor examines the alignment of bones for determining the severity of condition. Certain imaging tests such as MRI scan, X-ray, etc help to confirm the diagnosis. Both Non-surgical and surgical procedures are included in treatment.

  • Non-surgical Treatment:

The various non-surgical methods are listed below:

  • Rest

In early period of healing, rest is necessary. It provides time for knee to recover properly. A few simple exercises such as waking, along with rest is good.

  • Ice

For fast healing, applying ice packs on the injury is beneficial. The best method is to use the crushed ice pieces directly on the affected part for 15-20 minutes. This process should be regular for few days with at least 2-3 times per day. However, chemical ice products such as blue ice should not be used directly.

  • Bracing

A brace is helpful in protecting the injured ligament from further injuries. Along with braces, crutches are also recommended. It avoids weight on the leg. Staying away from risky activities is also essential.

  • Physical Therapy

Often simple strengthening and stretching exercises are recommended to restore the knee functions. They build-up leg muscles to hold the knee in position.

  • Surgical Treatment:

The surgery is often not required for treating collateral ligament injuries. In very severe cases, where no other methods help to treat torn ligaments, surgery becomes essential. During surgery, the patient is kept under local anesthesia. Small incisions are made on the internal part of the knee. This procedure does not make use of arthroscopic method. Large stitches or bone staple are used to re-attach the torn ligament with the bone. In some cases, the damage occurs to the middle part of the ligament. This is treated by stitching the torn ends together.

Post-Operation:

After surgery, the knee will be weak to perform daily activities. So a proper exercise along with a recovery program is suggested. The recovery program involves a balanced diet and specific exercises. These exercises provide the lost functionality, mobility and flexibility of knee. Returning to work is likely to be possible only after 2-4 months.

Risks:

The common possible risks or complications in surgery of collateral ligament injuries are:

  • Acute or chronic pain at operated site
  • Bleeding
  • Formation of blood-clots
  • Reaction to anesthesia

 

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