- What is the internal lateral ligament?
- Function of the internal lateral ligament
- Pathologies that can suffer the internal lateral ligament
- Treatments for internal lateral ligament pathologies
- Specialist that treats the pathologies of the internal lateral ligament
What is the internal lateral ligament?
The internal lateral ligament, also called the tibial collateral ligament, is one of the four most important ligaments of the knee. It extends from inside the lower part of the thigh bone to the inside of the upper part of the shin bone.
The medial lateral ligament provides stability to the knee, although it is also one of the most injured.
Function of the internal lateral ligament
The internal lateral ligament is responsible for providing stability to the knee, as well as limiting its movement from side to side. When an injury occurs in this ligament there is usually a tear, partial or complete, or an excessive stretching of the ligament.
Pathologies that the internal lateral ligament may suffer from
The patient can perceive that he suffers an injury in the internal lateral ligament when he notices pain in the inner part of the knee, appreciates instability and feels that the knee yields or is blocked, notices pain when he bends or stretches the knee or it hurts him when walking.
Most medial collateral ligament injuries can occur if the lower leg is moved outward at the knee; if a blow is received on the lower outer thigh; or if a foot is placed on the foot to give momentum (when skiing, for example). In this way what happens is that a total or partial distension of the ligament is produced by an excessive stretching of this one, when forcing the articulation beyond its possibilities. This injury, very common in athletes, is known as a sprain or tear of the internal lateral ligament of the knee. It is common in soccer players but also in sports such as skiing, handball or rugby.
There are different degrees of the injury:
- Grade I: the patient has moderate pain, little swelling and can move the joint.
- Grade II: the patient suffers pain but a loss of function, instability and swelling.
- Grade III: the functionality of the joint is very affected, with a lot of instability, swelling and pain.
Treatments for internal lateral ligament pathologies
The treatment for the injury of the internal lateral ligament will depend on its stage. Thus, in grade I injuries the treatment will normally be conservative. This involves immobilization of the joint and rehabilitation. In injuries of grade II and III the specialist in Traumatology should study the injury individually and see if the treatment should be conservative or if a definitive conservative surgery should be performed.
On the other hand, physiotherapy is essential for a complete recovery. The main objective is to reduce pain and inflammation, so that the patient can walk properly, as well as to allow pain-free exercises with contrast baths and the use of electrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is also of great help because it decreases the patient’s stress to the therapy and allows pain-free movements in the resistance of the water, so that the musculature is also strengthened.
It is important that the physiotherapy exercise program allows to increase knee flexion and stimulate the recovery of stability, as well as gaining muscle. This will be achieved by progressively increasing the exercises.
In parallel, it is also recommended to perform massages with deep transverse friction of the muscle fibers, so that the fibers of the ligament are reorganized and there is a greater tissue regeneration, providing more nutrients.
Some specialists also recommend infiltrations of platelet-rich plasma. These are proteins that are produced naturally by the patient’s body and that act after an injury to repair and regenerate tissues. Thus, with a small amount of blood that is extracted from the patient, it is treated and platelet-rich plasma is obtained, which is injected directly into the injury.
Specialist treating pathologies of the internal lateral ligament
There are several specialists who treat injuries of the internal lateral ligament. Thus, the traumatologists specialized in knee are those who will evaluate, mainly, the seriousness of the injury. However, depending on the degree, the physiotherapist will also intervene in the approach to the pathologies of the internal lateral ligament.