ACL Sprain or Tear
An ACL injury is the over-stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. The ACL typically sprains during one of the following knee movements: a sudden stop; a twist, pivot or change in direction at the joint; hyperextension; or a direct impact to the outside of the knee or lower leg. Sometimes the injury is so severe, the ligament can split or tear. Pain, swelling, and a loud pop or snap are symptoms of an ACL tear. Usually these are accompanied with a feeling of looseness in the joint and the inability to put weight on the injured knee.
Initial treatment of a torn or sprained ACL may include resting the knee, applying ice, using gentle compression, elevating the leg, and taking anti-inflammatory pain medicines. Crutches or splints may be used for the first few weeks, but if used for too long, crutches and splints can weaken the muscles from too little activity and the knee will become stiff and restricted. Surgery to reconstruct the ACL and repair other injuries, such as a meniscus tear may be recommended, but research suggests that injected stem cells may deliver faster recovery and prevent recurrence of ligament and tendon injuries.
MCL Sprain or Tear
The MCL, or medial collateral ligament, is the band of tissue on the inside of your knee that connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg and keeps the knee from bending inward. This ligament can be stretched or torn to the point where the knee joint becomes unstable. Injuries to the MCL are usually caused by a force that pushes the knee sideways. These are often contact injuries, but can also occur while doing activities with lots of stop-and-go movements, jumping, or weaving. Symptoms of a torn or sprained MCL include swelling, bruising, or pain. The pain may increase after some time and it might become harder to bend the knee.
On average, it takes about six weeks for an MCL injury to heal with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. Your doctor may suggest that you use crutches and wear a knee brace, while reducing your activities for a few weeks. A more severe tear may need surgery, but this usually isn’t done unless other parts of the knee are injured as well. Surgery also requires months of rehabilitation to regain strength, range-of-motion, and balance. A more non-invasive option would be the use of stem cell regenerative treatments, allowing the patient to avoid the painful period of downtime and rehabilitation.
LCL Sprain or Tear
The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is a thin band of tissue running along the outside of the knee. It connects the thighbone (femur) to the fibula, which is the small bone of the lower leg that turns down the side of the knee and connects to the ankle. Like the MCL, the lateral collateral ligament’s main function is to keep the knee stable as it moves through its full arc of motion.
The main cause of LCL injuries is direct force to the inside of the knee. This puts pressure on the outside of the knee and causes the ligament to stretch or tear. The symptoms of a torn or sprained LCL may include swelling or stiffness in the knee, pain or soreness on the outside of the knee, or an overall feeling like the knee is going to give out.
Physical therapy is usually the path to take towards strengthening and regaining range of motion in the knee, but first splinting, icing, and elevating the knee must be done to reduce any swelling that has occurred. Unfortunately, all of this slows down the healing process. A more effective treatment, like stem cell therapy, is one that will regenerate the ligament and stimulate healing of the original ligament rather than surgically replacing it. Injuries to the LCL aren’t usually treated with surgery. However, the LCL is often injured in conjunction with other ligaments, in which case, surgery is likely recommended.