Sprained knee

Medial collateral ligament sprains are usually caused by force applied to the outside of the knee joint as in a tackle in football. Force applied to the outside of the knee causes the inside of the knee to open, stretching the medial collateral ligament. The extent of the stretch determines whether the ligament simply stretches, tears partially or completely tears.

Cause of injury

Force applied to the outside of the knee joint.

Signs and symptoms

Pain over the medial portion of the knee. Swelling and tenderness. Instability in the knee and pain on weight bearing.

Complications if left unattended

The ligament, in rare cases, may repair itself but if left unattended could lead to a more severe sprain. The pain and instability in the knee may not resolve. Continued activity on the injured knee could lead to injuries in the other ligaments due to the instability.

Immediate treatment

RICER. Immobilization. Anti-inflammatory medication.

Rehabilitation and prevention

Depending on the severity of the sprain, simple rest and gradual introduction back into activity may be enough. For more severe sprains, braces may be needed during the strengthening phase of rehabilitation and the early portion of the return to activity. The most severe sprains may require extended immobilization and rest from the activity. As range of motion and strength begin to return, stationary bikes and other equipment may be used. Ensuring adequate strength in the thigh muscles and conditioning before starting any activity that is susceptible to trauma to the knee will help prevent these types of injuries.

Long-term prognosis

The ligament will usually heal with no limitations, although in some cases there is residual looseness in the medial part of the knee. Very rarely, surgery is required to repair the ligaments. Menisci tearing may also result in a severe sprain that may require surgical repair.


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