Knee – MCL & LCL Injuries in Austin Texas
The hinged knee joint is held together by four ligaments: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL).
Collateral Ligament Injuries
The collateral ligaments, MCL and LCL, run along the sides of the knee. The MCL runs along the inside of the knee and connects the femur to the tibia. The LCL, outside ligament, connects the femur to the smaller bone in the lower leg (fibula). The collateral ligaments control the sideways motion of your knee and protect it against unsafe ranges of motion.
Ligament injuries are a form of sprain and are diagnosed on a severity scale:
- Grade 1: Mild damage, slight stretching, the knee remains stable
- Grade 2: A stretched ligament that becomes loose and may have slight tearing
- Grade 3: A complete tear, causing an unstable knee joint
Collateral ligament injuries are nearly always caused by an unnatural sideways force to the knee, from either the inside or the outside. These injuries often occur during contact sports.
Immediately after the injury, patients typically experience pain on either side of the knee, swelling and knee instability. If it is an MCL injury, the pain is on the inside of the knee, and an LCL injury may cause pain on the outside of the knee.
Depending on the degree of injury, nonsurgical treatment can have positive results.
Treatment may include:
- RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression elevation)
- Targeted, progressive physical therapy can restore the knee’s stability and help prevent future injury.
- A knee brace may be suggested to limit movement
Many isolated collateral ligament injuries can be treated without surgery. If a collateral ligament is torn so that cannot heal or is compounded with additional ligament injuries, surgery may be necessary for repair.
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