Brief Outline of Medial Collateral Ligament Sprain
A ligament is tough, fibrous connective tissue that connects bone to bone, and provides support and strength to a joint. Medial collateral ligament sprain involves tearing or stretching of this ligament, and is usually caused by force applied to the outside of the knee joint as in a tackle in a football.
Anatomy and physiology
The medial (tibial) collateral ligament is one of the four supporting ligaments of the knee. It is a broad, flat band about 12 cm long, and spans the joint on the inside of the knee running from the medial epicondyle of the femur to the medial condyle of the tibial shaft. Some fibres are fused to the medial meniscus. This ligament is designed to hold the knee joint together on the medial (inside) surface. Force applied to the outside of the knee causes the inside of the knee to open, stretching the medial collateral ligament. The extent of the stretch determines whether the ligament simply stretches. tears partially, or complete tears.
Cause of Medial Collateral Ligament Sprain Injury
Force applied to the outside of the knee joint.
Signs and symptoms
Pain over the medial portion of the knee. Swelling and tenderness. Instability in the knee and pain with weight bearing.
Complications if left unattended
The ligament, in rare cases, may repair itself if left unattended but could lead to a more severe sprain. The pain and instability the knee may not go away. Continued activity on the injured knee could lead to injuries in other ligaments, due to the instability.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
Rehabilitation and prevention
Depending on the severity of the sprain, simple rest and gradual introduction back into activity may be enough. For more severe sprains, braces may be needed during the strengthening phase of rehabilitation and the early portion of the return to activity. The most severe sprains may require extended immobilisation and rest from the activity. As range of motion and strength begins to return, stationary bikes and other equipment may be used to ease back into activity. Ensuring adequate strength in the thigh muscles and conditioning before starting any activity that is susceptible to hits to the knee will help prevent these types of injuries.
The ligament will usually heal with no limitations, although in some cases there is residual looseness in the medial part of the knee. Very rarely, surgery is required to repair the ligament. Meniscus tearing may also result from a sprain that may require surgical repair.