A ligament is a band of tissue that connects a bone to another bone. The collateral ligaments of the knee are located on the outside of your knee joint, and they help connect the bones of your upper and lower leg, inside your knee joint.
A collateral ligament injury occurs when the ligaments are stretched or torn. A partial tear occurs when only part of the ligament is torn and a complete tear occurs when the entire ligament is torn into two pieces.
The collateral ligaments help keep your knee stable. They help keep your leg bones in place and keep your knee from moving too far sideways.
A collateral ligament injury can occur if you get hit very hard on the inside or outside of your knee, or when you have a twisting injury.
Skiers and people who play basketball, football, or soccer are more likely to have this type of injury.
With a collateral ligament injury, you may notice:
After examining your knee, the doctor may order these imaging tests:
If you have a collateral ligament injury, you may need:
Most people do not need surgery for an MCL injury. However, you may need surgery if your LCL is injured or if your injuries are severe and involve other ligaments in your knee.
Follow R.I.C.E. to help reduce pain and swelling:
You can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to reduce pain and swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) helps with pain, but not swelling. You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
You should not put all of your weight on your leg if it hurts, or if your doctor tells you not to. Rest and self-care may be enough to allow the tear to heal. You should use crutches to protect the injured ligament.
A physical therapist (PT) will help you regain knee and leg strength. Your doctor and physical therapist will develop a sport-specific rehabilitation program to return you to your sport safely.
Call your doctor if:
If you have surgery, call the doctor if you have:
For any knee pain or injury affecting your daily activities, call 1-855-NH-SPORT to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic sports medicine specialists.