How to treat a medial collateral ligament injury

A medial collateral ligament injury is a sprain or tear on the medial collateral ligament. It is a bundle of tissue on the interior of the knee and links the thigh bone to the lower leg bone. It also prevents the joint from over-extending inward and for stability and rotation.

The medial collateral ligament can be injured when performing activities that involve twisting, bending or a sudden change of direction such as playing soccer or football when the outer area of the knee is struck. It can also happen while skiing and other sports that requires a lot of stationary and active movements, jumping as well as weaving. These injuries can be classified into grade 1 injury which is the least severe. The ligaments are only stretched but not torn. In grade 2 injuries, the ligaments are partially torn and cause instability of the knee joint while grade 3 is the most severe type where the ligament is completely torn and there is joint instability.

Symptoms of a medial collateral ligament injury

  • Pain, swelling and tenderness of the affected area.
  • Difficulty in moving the knee
  • Catching or locking in the joint of the knee

    Pain, swelling and tenderness of the affected area.

  • Bruising
  • A popping sound can be heard immediately after the injury
  • A feeling that the knee is going to give out when applying weight on the area
  • Instability of the knee which can be a symptom of grade 2 or 3 injury


  • Take plenty of rest. Avoid performing activities that cause pain on the affected area for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply ice or cold pack on the knee for at least 10-20 minutes at a time, every 1-2 hours when awake for 3 days after the injury and until the swelling totally disappears. Wrap the pack using a towel or piece of cloth before applying on the area.
  • Compress the affected knee using an elastic bandage or compression wrap. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent disruption in the blood circulation in the area and worsen the condition.
  • Use crutches or a brace for the knee to support and prevent unnecessary movement while the area heals.
  • Elevate the affected knee above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling. While seated, or resting down, you should raise the leg on a couple of pillows for 3 days after the injury.
  • Take the prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen to lessen the swelling and pain.
  • Perform some stretches and strenghening exercises and improve range of motion of the knee with the help of the physical therapist.


  • Perform proper warm up before starting any physical activities.
  • Wear a protective knee brace during physical activities.
  • Minimize activities that causes further injury such as contact sports.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a medial collateral ligament injury is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage ligament injuries, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.


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