Conservative Approach to Treating American Football Players With Medial Collateral Ligament Grade 2 Sprain During the Season

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Lucas Bianco St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, PA, USA

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Eden Jahn Alvernia University, Reading, PA, USA

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Shannon Renninger St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, PA, USA

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Context: The medial collateral ligament is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. The high-speed pivoting and agility movements that are common in the sport of American Football put participants at an increased risk for a valgus force stress from contact or noncontact injuries. Positional release therapy (PRT) also considered strain/counterstrain focuses on releasing the tension in a tissue through unloading the involved body part. Case Presentation: Two male student-athletes participating in football with a mean age of 20.5 years were diagnosed by a physician with medial collateral ligament grade 2 sprain. Both patients sustained their injuries in a regular season game with a contact valgus force from an opposing player. Management and Outcomes: After the initial 72 hours of compression, elevation, and cryotherapy, the patients were both treated with PRT followed by progressive loading exercises. Following 4 treatment sessions of PRT over the next 6 days, the patients started with quadriceps engagement exercises, single-leg squats to 60° knee flexion, side steps, triceps dips, slow controlled lunges, and toe walk. The patients progressed to full body weight squats, single-leg landing, step-up tri-extension, and sidekicks with a leg on table. Then, the patients completed function movements and sports-specific exercises. Conclusions: In this case series, 2 patients competing in intercollege American Football were treated with PRT and progressive loading exercises to facilitate return to unrestricted activities and improve outcome measures. Commonly, a grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain is conservatively treated with return to sport taking 20 days on average. In this type 2 case series, the clinician found success utilizing PRT early in the recovery process, which in these 2 cases lead to restoration of function, outcome measure improvement, and an expedited return to sport. The expedited return to sport occurred at an average of 18 days for these patients.

Bianco (Lucas.bianco@sluhn.org) is corresponding author.

Learn some effect exercises to pair with your manual techniques for patients with medial collateral ligament sprains.

Positional release therapy can unload medial collateral ligament tissue fibers to speed recover.

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