A study on when surgery will or won’t be needed for medial knee problems

June 2015 – Volume 23 – Issue 2 – p e15–e22
A Review of Surgical and Nonsurgical Outcomes of Medial Knee Injuries
Smyth, Mark P. MD*; Koh, Jason L. MD†

Medial-sided knee injuries can result in pain, instability, and loss of function. Many clinical studies have been written on the treatment of medial-sided knee injuries; however, the vast majority are isolated case series of surgical or nonoperative treatment regimens, and only a few randomized prospective clinical trials can be found in the literature that compare different treatment modalities. Comparison of these treatments is challenging due to the variety of medial-sided structures that can be involved, the multiple different approaches to treatment, and the variability of how objective and subjective clinical outcomes are reported. In this paper we report on the injuries by extent and type of anatomic structures damaged including partial medial-sided injuries, completed isolated medial-sided knee injuries, and combined injuries. In general, most authors concur that isolated partial or complete medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries can be treated nonoperatively with a brace and early motion with good clinical outcomes. Prospective, randomized trials support nonoperative treatment of the MCL in combined anterior cruciate ligament-MCL injuries. Knee dislocations and posterior medial corner injuries appear to have better results with surgical management including reconstruction. Multiple reconstructive techniques have been described for chronic injuries but it is difficult to compare their results.