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The ligament linking your thigh bone to your shin bone is known as the medial collateral ligament, and it is on the inner side of your knee join. Straining or twisting this ligament, especially when playing a sport, can result in an injury to your knee.
If you suffer from medial collateral ligament damage, it can vary in its severity, and usually these sprains are classed into three levels. A first-degree sprain is when you only damage a few fibres; a second-degree sprain is when you damage more fibres; and a third-degree sprain is when you rupture the entire ligament. A good knee support can help to prevent the likelihood of a sprain, the one you choose is very much dependant on the sport you wish to partake in, with soft supports perfect for running and rigid supports designed for more extreme sports.
This type of ligament damage is almost always caused by playing a sport, especially football, either through a collision, force applied by an opponent or studs getting caught in the turf.
Depending on extent of the mcl injury you will notice certain symptoms. First-degree sprains will result in some pain; second-degree sprains will be more painful to the touch and possibly also swollen; and third degree pains will immobilise your leg completely.
Regardless of the level, you should see a doctor at the earliest opportunity as they can recommend pain-relief solutions. This will often include applying ice regularly to the affected area. Try doing this for 20 minutes every few hours, but don’t put the ice directly on your skin (wrap it in a towel or cloth). Keep your knee elevated and rest it as much as possible.
For first-degree sprains you should wait about three weeks before attempting your usual sports. Second-degree sprains take around eight weeks to heal and you will probably be advised to see a physiotherapist to prevent the mcl knee injury from reoccurring. If you have a third-degree sprain, then you will need surgery to repair your ligaments and will need to wear a knee support for a while afterwards.
If you play a lot of sports, then it can be virtually impossible to avoid certain injuries and this is one of them. You will probably throw yourself wholeheartedly into your sports and it is difficult to avoid collisions, however accidental. Sports such as football, rugby and American football are extremely physical and the chances of injury are fairly high.
However, you can try to minimise your risk of knee ligament damage by taking a few sensible precautions. Wearing a good knee support or knee brace can help to protect the area, offering you extra stability and strength in your joint. If you have had a previous injury, then you need to keep up the exercises your physiotherapist has advised and make sure you always warm up and cool down before playing sports.