CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: InjuryDetail: Medial Collateral Ligament Injury
 
Injuries and Conditions: Knee: Medial Collateral Ligament Injury: Medical Details
 
Overview
The knee is a complex joint formed by a combination of bones,tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage. Unlike other hinged joints, the knee has a special function that allows the joint to lock into a rigid structure when fully extended. This feature allows the knee joint to withstand a great variety of loads and a large number of functions.

Ligaments play a critical role throughout the body by providing an additional support structure for the joint and to allow for the stable movement of the joint. Unlike bones that are rigid or muscles that are flexible, ligaments provide an intermediate support and connective tissue system that incorporates some of both qualities. Ligaments attach bone to bone. They help keep joints in proper alignment across the joint's natural range of movement. The fibrous material of a ligament is somewhat like a very strong rope or cable, and provides a flexible connection between two sides of a joint.

The MCL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee connecting the bones of the upper leg and lower leg. The primary purpose of this ligament is to provide stability and to limit excessive medial movement in the knee. During vigorous activities like running, turning, or jumping that place considerable stress on the joint, the MCL helps stabilize and control excessive movement of the knee. Due to the MCL's location and size, it is typically put under more stress than other ligaments and is one of the most commonly injured ligament within the knee.

Causes of Injury
  • Injuries usually occur during an activity when there is a direct blow to the knee or lower leg, especially while the knee is bent and the lower leg is forced inward.
  • During contact sports like football, injuries may occur from tackles and in other activities after a sharp blow to the leg.
  • The severity of the injury varies greatly according to the stress placed on the joint. Usually the injury is only a partial tear. However, an especially forceful blow or twisting motion can completely tear the MCL.

  • Diagnosis
    The initial diagnosis of the injured knee may be made difficult because of the significant pain, swelling and spasm in the joint. However, a gentle physical examination is usually sufficient to provide a diagnosis. More serious MCL injuries may require a delay before the patient can tolerate movement of the knee which is necessary for a more thorough evaluation.

    Less severe injuries will typically present with pain only and no medial instability. More severe injuries will present with medial looseness and pain. Finally, the most severe injuries will present with a high degree of instability, pain and joint swelling.

    An injured MCL is sometimes accompanied by damage to other ligaments and cartilage in the knee. A physician should also investigate the health of these structures to determine if additional injuries have occured.

    Anatomy
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     Product Considerations
    Knee: Ligament Brace
    Functional braces are designed to control abnormal motion of an unstable knee. Because ligaments help stabilize the knee, and a torn ligament leads to instability, these braces are also called Ligament Braces. The intent is to allow a previously injured athlete to compete at a higher level than they would otherwise be able to without the brace. The brace is designed to support either a newly reconstructed ligament such as the ACL, or a weakened or injured ligament, which is being treated in a conservative manner. The role of a functional brace is to increase stability to a previously injured knee.

    Type of Injuries:

  • Pre-operative ACL/PCL ruptures/injuries
  • Non-surgical ACL/PCL injuries
  • General knee instability
  • Pre/post joint replacement with ligament instability.


  • NSAIDs
    NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are a group of drugs used to control pain. This category of medications includes both prescription and common over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen. NSAIDs are effective for many types of pain that can occur because of inflammation of muscles, joints and bones. The drugs work quickly and people often notice some benefit within a few hours of taking the tablet. However, the complete effectiveness of the drug may not be realized for up to four weeks. For each individual, some varieties of NSAIDs are more effective than others. Often, patients will find that one or two varieties are helpful whereas others may not be as effective in controlling symptoms. It is usually necessary to try several brands and continue with the one that is most suitable. NSAIDs can be used to treat:
  • Pain resulting from inflammation or swelling.
  • Pain after injury.
  • Joint pain and arthritis.


  • Knee: Cold Therapy
    Cold therapy is used to reduce pain and swelling and is a convenient method to apply cold to an injured or rehabilitating extremity, such as a knee or shoulder. A cuff fits like a sleeve around the extremity and utilizes cold water supplied by a connected thermos or canister to chill the extremity. Water flow into the cuff can be controlled by different mechanisms. The simplest way is gravity; elevating the canister fills the cuff and controls the amount of pressure against the extremity. Water flow may also be controlled by a pump which will automatically circulate the cold water to and from the cuff. After surgery or immediately following an injury, the canister should be refilled with cold water every one to two hours to maintain a proper temperature. The cold therapy may also be used during rehabilitation, especially after physical activity, reducing the inflammatory heat from exercise.

    Cold therapy can be used to treat: Knee, Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand, Back, Hip, and Foot & Ankle Injuries.

    Knee Examples include:

  • Pre-operative ACL/PCL injuries.
  • Non-surgical ACL/PCL injuries.
  • General knee pain or swelling.
  • Soft tissue injuries.


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