Collateral Ligaments: Ligaments are like strong ropes that help to connect bones together and provide stability to joints. In the knee there are two collateral ligaments. The collateral ligaments are located at the inner and outer sides of the knee joint. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone) and provides stability to the inner side of the knee. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) connects the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone which runs parallel to the tibia), and stabilizes the outer side of the knee joint. These ligaments work together to provide stability to the knee. If either ligament is even mildly damaged and its function is reduced, it puts all the other structures of the knee at risk for further new injuries.
Description: Injury to the MCL is fairly common in contact sports such as football and hockey. This injury is the result of acute trauma, such as a direct blow to the outer aspect of the knee, usually with the foot firmly planted on the ground.
Symptoms one may experience with a MCL injury include:
- a "pop" or "snap" may be felt at the time of the injury
- immediate pain is usually experienced in the outer aspect of the knee
- the outer aspect of the knee becomes swollen
- an "unstable" feeling in the knee with certain movements
- later, a "stiffness" in the outer aspect of the knee is noticed
Immediate Self-Help Treatments for Minor Lateral Collateral Ligament Knee Injuries Include: P.R.I.C.E.:
1. Protection: best provided by Collateral Ligament Knee Braces. Crutches are also used, especially immediately after the injury.
2. Rest: allowing the ligament to rest will help it to heal. Avoid all unnecessary weight-bearing activities.
3. Ice: will help to reduce swelling and pain. When applying ice, cool the area, do not "freeze" it. If the ice is uncomfortable, stop immediately. Ice can be applied several times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each time. Apply ice without messy spills and while staying active, using Active Wrap Knee Hot/Cold Therapy.
4. Compression: mild and comfortable compression can limit swelling and movement of the injured ligament. This will speed up healing. Compression is best applied with a Collateral Ligament Knee Brace; however, during the first 72 hours after the injury, the use of an elastic bandage will also help. Make sure the bandage is not applied too tightly, you do not want to "cut-off" circulation to the knee and leg; keep the bandage comfortable.
5. Elevation: will help to limit swelling. This in turn will allow for faster healing.
Long Term Self-Help Treatment and Rehabilitation: Should include a Collateral Ligament Knee Brace to aid in healing. Our Collateral Ligament Knee Braces are uniquely effective in reducing healing time by:
- providing stability to the knee. Our Collateral Ligament Knee Braces are designed to allow the injured collateral ligament to rest, even when weight-bearing, thus allowing the ligament to heal. Healing "down time" is reduced, so that you can get on with your life!
- reducing pain and swelling. Our braces reduce those movements which will cause pain and swelling.
- aiding in protecting the injured ligament from further injury and harm. If the already weakened and injured collateral ligament is re-injured, the entire knee is at now at risk for serious consequences, due to the fact that the collateral ligament cannot provide stability to the knee, so the new trauma is passed on to ALL of the knee¹s structures. Our Collateral Ligament Knee Braces not only protect the injured ligament, but they also provide support and stability to the entire knee.
- Finally, our braces are comfortable, and they are easily applied to the knee. Whether your lifestyle calls for limited weight-bearing activities, or you are on your feet many hours each day, we have a comfortable brace that will help to:
- Reduce your pain and swelling
- Protect your knee from further injuries
- Get you back to enjoying your life-style more quickly
If you think that you have a serious knee injury, contact your physician immediately.