Medial Collateral Ligament Injury: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The medial collateral ligament is a band of tissue on the inside of the knee. It connects the thigh bone to the bone of the lower leg. It keeps the knee from bending inward. You can sprain or tear the ligament during activity that involves bending, twisting, or a quick change of direction. The ligament is often injured in football or soccer when the outside of the knee is hit.

You can treat minor injuries with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. Your doctor may suggest you wear a brace that helps support your knee. A severe tear may need surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your knee for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Follow instructions about how much weight you can put on your leg and how to walk with crutches, if your doctor recommends them.
  • Prop up your leg on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Your doctor may recommend a brace (immobilizer) to support your knee while it heals. Wear it as directed.
  • Do stretches or strength exercises your doctor suggests.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have increasing knee pain.
  • Your foot is cold, numb, or does not move normally.
  • Your knee still swells after home treatment.
  • Your knee feels like it will give out.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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