Collateral Ligament Tears- Diagnosis, Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

What is a collateral ligament tear?

A collateral ligament tear is an injury to the side ligaments in your knee. The knee is made up of different ligaments that hold this joint together. Two of those ligaments are on the left and right side of your knee. The ligament on the inside portion of your knee is the medial collateral ligament and the ligament on the outside portion is called the lateral collateral ligament. Both the MCL and LCL can tear.

What causes collateral ligament tears?

If a patient suffers from a sports-related injury to the knee, it is likely that one of the collateral ligaments may tear or begin to rip.  Athletes are more prone to collateral ligament tears since they are participating in contact sports such as football or soccer. Causes of collateral ligament tears include:

  • Powerful impact that turns the knee sideways.
  • Unnatural twisting of the leg and knee joint.
  • Direct hit to the left or right side of the knee.

With sports-related injuries to the knee, the MCL is more commonly torn than the LCL. Both collateral knee ligaments can tear, but there are far more cases of MCL tears.

How do I know if I have a collateral ligament tear?

Whenever a ligament in the knee starts to tear, there will be immediate pain. Whichever side of the knee in pain determines what the chronic knee pain condition is. Other symptoms that can identify a collateral ligament tear include:

  • Swelling of the knee.
  • Redness of the knee.
  • Pain toward the left or right side of the knee.
  • Weak knees that cannot carry your normal weight.

How do I prevent collateral ligament tears?

It is important to always protect your knees, especially when playing sports. Even if you are not an athlete, you should protect your knees from unexpected injury and chronic knee pain . Patients can lower their risk of collateral ligament tears by:

  • Regularly stretching your knee in various forms.
  • Exercising the knee and building stronger muscle tissue.
  • Wearing protective knee pads or other gear when playing sports.