Tear > Treatments
The initial treatment for most grade 1, 2, or
3 MCL (medial collateral ligament) tears is aimed at
reducing the pain and inflammation in the knee, and
immobilizing the knee to keep it stabilized. Rest, icing,
elevation, and pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen
can ease pain and swelling. To immobilize the knee,
your physician may recommend that you wear a lightweight
cast or brace that will allow your knee to move backward
and forward but restricts side-to-side movement. Immobilization
usually is recommended for 72 hours, depending on severity.
The cast or brace may be designed so that you cannot
bend your knee. If this is the case, you will need to
modify your behavior so that you can avoid having to
squat, kneel down, or bend over. You should try to keep
your leg elevated even if you are sitting in a chair,
to reduce blood flow to the knee. Depending on the success
of the above measures in reducing pain and swelling,
you may be able to start on a rehabilitative program
after a few days.
The medial collateral ligament has
a good blood supply, and usually responds very well
to non-surgical treatment. Depending on the severity
of the injury, a period of rest, bracing, and physical
therapy usually is sufficient to complete the healing
process. Once an MCL has fully healed, you should have
a minimum of long-term effects, providing there was
no other damage to the knee. Recovery times differ depending
on the severity of the injury:
minor, or grade 1, MCL tear can take from a few days
to a week and a half to heal sufficiently for you to
return to normal activities, including sports.
grade 2 tear can take from two to four weeks.
grade 3 tear usually takes from four to eight weeks,
unless it is associated with damage to the ACL, in which
case the recovery time may be longer.
Once pain and swelling have subsided, you should be
able to commence exercises to restore strength and normal
range of motion to your knee. If you are still experiencing
soreness while you are doing exercises, you should proceed
slowly to prevent further irritation.
strengthening exercises: Ligament injuries
Though collateral ligament injuries
often occur during sports and are difficult to avoid,
there are several steps you can take to improve the
overall strength and flexibility of your knee:
your weight. Every pound in excess of your normal weight
puts three or four additional pounds of pressure on
your knee every time you take a step.
hamstrings, in the back of the thigh, and quadriceps,
the muscles in the front of the thigh, are crucial shock
and impact absorbers. These muscles must be kept strong
and flexible to protect the joint surfaces in your knee.
before exercising should be a regular part of your warmup;
however, it is important not to over-stretch. Never
push or pull on your leg with your hands while you are
stretching, and avoid squatting during your warmup,
which can put stress on your knee joint.
well-fitting athletic shoes can reduce the impact of
the load exerted on the knee.
you are engaging in activities that require a lot of
twisting and turning such as racket sports, skiing,
soccer, and basketball, do not assume you can play yourself
into shape; make sure you are in good physical shape
before you play.