Collateral Knee Ligament Injury
A collateral ligament injury affects the ligaments supporting either side of your knee. Injury tends to occur due to a sudden trauma to the knee, such as a twisting force or a sideways force. The knee is a hinge joint. Being the middle point of your lower limb, it can be exposed to twisting and sideway forces from the rotation of your hip or ankle joints above and below. Your collateral ligaments run down either side of your knee to provide some protection to the knee against these forces.
A twisting force, such as that experienced skiing, or a lateral force, when your knee is pushed outward or inwards, are the typical mechanisms of injury. Once damaged it can take some time for it to heal. Ligaments have a poor blood supply, meaning there is a lower concentration of substances the body relies upon to repair an injury. The severity of your injury will dictate how long it will take for you to recover. This can range from 6 weeks to 3 months or more., depending on how strict you are with your post-injury care routine.
Within the first few hours of your injury, you will normally experience swelling and bruising around the area of your injury. This can sometimes track further down your leg, so don't be alarmed if you see bruising further down. Moving the leg can be painful, particularly after periods of immobility. Help your body recover by elevating your leg for short periods in the early phase. This will help the swelling and bruising to disperse. Ice can be an excellent additional aide in settling the bruising and or/swelling. Be sure to wrap your ice in a damp cloth and monitor your skin to avoid ice burns.
After the initial injury it may be wise to reduce the amount of walking you do , and any other activities that rely heavily on the use of your legs. Go for non weight bearing activities instead to keep you fit and active, such as cycling. Swimming may be advised in the early periods, but this may aggravate the pain, particularly with breast stroke legs, so be careful if you chose to do this activity.
Maintaining the full range of movement of your knee is vital, even in the early stages of your injury. There are ways to do this that minimize your discomfort you feel when moving your knee. Keeping the rest of your leg, as well as the rest of your body strong and flexible reduces the risk of secondary complications and is vital to your overall recovery, so you may be advised to perform some exercises in these other areas.
Strengthening exercises are important to regain the stability around your knee. Your muscles play a very important role in protecting your joint and reducing the risks of this injury reoccurring. Balance exercises improve the coordination between each muscle group in your leg, bringing together your strength work and again improving the protection of your joint. It is important to address all areas of your leg and your trunk as these factors can all contribute to your overall recovery and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Do not be tempted to rush your rehabilitation as you may end up causing more harm then good. Be patient; with time you will be back to what you love. Here are some exercises you can do to help you on your recovery to a strong stable knee joint: