CONDITION - Knee Collateral Ligament Tear

Collateral Ligament Tears/Sprains

These ligaments supply stability to your knee for side to side movement and even during normal walking. Injury to these areas usually occurs after a strike from the side such as a football tackle. The pain is usually located over the sides of your knee and is worse during any activity and is better with rest. Swelling can be anywhere from very mild to quite significant.

Tears of the collateral ligaments are graded on a scale of 1-3:

  • Grade 1: A minor stretch ("sprain") of the ligament.
  • Grade 2: A partial tear of the ligament.
  • Grade 3: A complete tear of the ligament.

There are two collateral ligaments in the knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is located on the inside of the knee. It is the most frequently injured collateral ligament. Usually, the mechanism of injury is a blow to the outside of the knee, while the foot is planted firmly on the ground. Sometimes, stepping into a hole can also cause the twisting necessary to tear this ligament. The good news, however, is that it often can heal on it's own, if properly protected with a hinged knee brace. Sometimes, an MCL tear is associated with a tear of the ACL and a meniscus tear. This is known as the "unhappy triad".

The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is located on the outside of the knee. It is much more rarely injured. Milder injuries can be treated with a brace as well.

Click Next below to learn about what can be done to treat these tears!

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