In a twist of fate, Joao Cancelo, a key player for FC Barcelona, found himself sidelined due to a knee injury sustained during the intense battle against Las Palmas. The medical diagnosis revealed a tear in the medial collateral ligament (MCL), an integral part of the knee’s intricate structure.
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The knee houses four primary ligaments crucial for stability in various planes:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) – previously injured by Gavi and requiring an extended recovery period.
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) – less commonly affected in football.
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) – the very ligament impacted in Cancelo’s case.
The injury to the MCL typically occurs when the knee collapses inward while bearing weight or experiences a forceful impact on the inner part of the leg. In Cancelo’s instance, the player suffered an injury to the inner part of the foot when the tackle caused a sudden shift, leading to a stretch in the inner part of the knee and affecting the ligament.
The examination conducted on the field, as depicted in the image, involved the team doctor applying force to push the player’s knee outward, thereby exerting tension on the inner part of the knee. In cases of ligament injury, the player often experiences pain, accompanied by a sensation of instability during the examination, as the ligament fails to perform its stabilizing role against lateral movement.
Ligament injuries are categorized into three degrees, as illustrated in the image, with the severity determined through an MRI scan:
- Grade 1: Minor injury affecting a very small part of the ligament.
- Grade 2: Partial tear with damage to the ligament’s fibers.
- Grade 3: Complete tear with no continuity between the two parts of the ligament.
Reports suggest Cancelo might be absent for 2-3 weeks, indicating a partial tear, possibly Grade 1-2. The treatment for such injuries is generally conservative, leveraging the fact that the MCL receives good blood supply and possesses a robust healing capacity. In the initial weeks, the player may use a knee brace to provide stability and prevent movements that could exert significant stress on the healing ligament.
Even in the case of a Grade 3 tear, the typical approach is conservative, with surgery considered only when the tear accompanies damage to other ligaments or meniscus, leading to substantial knee instability.
As Joao Cancelo embarks on the path to recovery, the Barça faithful eagerly awaits his swift and complete healing, hoping to see him back on the pitch sooner rather than later.