Collateral Ligament Injuries
Article by Dr. Darren R Keiser MD
The knee is the largest joint in your body and one of the most complex. It is also vital to movement.
Your knee ligaments connect your thighbone to your lower leg bones. Knee ligament sprains or tears are a common sports injury.
Athletes who participate in direct contact sports like football or soccer are more likely to injure their collateral ligaments.
Because the knee joint relies just on these ligaments and surrounding muscles for stability, it is easily injured. Any direct contact to the knee or hard muscle contraction — such as changing direction rapidly while running — can injure a knee ligament.
Injured ligaments are considered “sprains” and are graded on a severity scale.
Grade 1 Sprains. The ligament is mildly damaged in a Grade 1 Sprain. It has been slightly stretched, but is still able to help keep the knee joint stable.
Grade 2 Sprains. A Grade 2 Sprain stretches the ligament to the point where it becomes loose. This is often referred to as a partial tear of the ligament.
Grade 3 Sprains. This type of sprain is most commonly referred to as a complete tear of the ligament. The ligament has been split into two pieces, and the knee joint is unstable.
Injuries to the collateral ligaments are usually caused by a force that pushes the knee sideways. These are often contact injuries, but not always.
Medial collateral ligament tears often occur as a result of a direct blow to the outside of the knee. This pushes the knee inwards (toward the other knee).
Blows to the inside of the knee that push the knee outwards may injure the lateral collateral ligament.
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Article URL: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00550&webid=2FDDE053