Cause | Outer ligament extension of the knee


Sports injuries are at the forefront of the development of an external ligament strain. Certain ball and martial arts in particular can often be associated with the development of an external ligament strain. For example, ball sports such as football, basketball or handball often involve a twisting of the ligaments and physical contact with other players, which can lead to a stretching of the ligaments.

The direct violent impact of certain martial arts can also lead to an overstretching of the ligaments. In any case a so-called “varus trauma” occurs. This means that the knee joint is temporarily brought into a bowleg position, usually by force. This position is accompanied by a stretching of the outer ligament.


To allow the affected outer ligament to heal completely and the knee joint to regain the function and stability as before the injury, an outer ligament extension should always be treated. Directly after the accident, the so-called PECH rule (rest, ice, compression, elevation) should be applied. The knee should therefore first be protected, cooled and elevated.

If available, a compression bandage should also be applied in acute cases. In the later course of healing, immobilisation of the knee joint with a splint and the intake of painkilling medication are the main focus of therapy. In order to allow the outer ligament to heal after overstretching and to ensure that the mobility and stability of the knee joint is not restricted, a break from sports should be taken.

At the same time, immobilisation of the joint with a splint is recommended. As a rule, the joint can be loaded again with sports exercises after about 2 weeks. Depending on the extent of the injury and any accompanying injuries, however, the duration of the sports break can be extended.

In addition to the conservative treatment options of external ligament stretching, which mainly consists of protection of the structure and pain therapy, the application of a tape bandage can help to minimise the symptoms of external ligament stretching. Especially in an advanced healing phase, the tape can help to increase the stability of the knee joint and thus make sports activities possible again. The duration of the treatment and symptoms of external ligament stretching can vary greatly depending on the extent of the injury and the soft tissue structures involved.

If the injury is treated consistently, a healing period of 2 weeks can be assumed. After about 2 weeks, a slow habituation to sports and everyday stress is usually possible and sensible. If there is a suspicion of an external ligament stretching, a medical clarification of the symptoms is recommended in order to avoid the development of complications.

A distension of the external ligament cannot usually only be detected by an MRI of the knee, which is why the diagnosis of the injury is usually limited to a description of the course of the injury and a physical examination of the person affected. In order to exclude concomitant injuries, an X-ray is nevertheless usually taken in two planes to exclude bony injuries. If there is suspicion of an injury to soft tissue structures (e.g. tearing of the outer ligament, partial tearing of the outer ligament, stretching of the outer ligament) and bleeding, an MRI diagnosis of the knee and a puncture of the joint may be necessary.