I tore my ACL in soccer five years ago. I had an operation to repair it. Now I've torn the medial collateral ligament. The doctor doesn't think surgery is needed. How does it heal without surgery?

The medial collateral ligament runs up and down the inside of the knee. Most injuries here don't require operations. Some patients have chronic trouble and then an operation may be needed. The medial ligament is linked to the cartilage. Serious problems can occur if the cartilage is torn loose, too.

There is some difference in opinion among doctors about the best way to treat medial ligament injuries. Most agree that allowing them to heal without surgery is the first choice.

A knee immobilizer can be used to assist in stabilizing the joint. Physical therapy helps the patient regain joint motion and leg strength. Since the medial ligament is outside the joint, it heals more easily than the internal cruciate ligaments. There isn't a lot of blood supply to ligaments so the injury can take from weeks to years to heal completely.