By Abby Sims
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Injuries seem to keep the Mets in the news on an almost daily basis.

Monday’s lowlights featured the announcement that first baseman Daniel Murphy’s MRI revealed a Grade 2 MCL sprain that will keep him out for the remainder of the season. The team also announced that Jose Reyes had been diagnosed (yet again) with a mild left hamstring strain that will sideline him for an indeterminate period.

Naturally, these are two of the Mets best hitters, and what was left of their team’s season will likely limp along in their absence. This only adds to the groaning that accompanied last week’s news that Johan Santana’s shoulder rehab had hit a glitch, and that Ike Davis may be a candidate for microfracture surgery on his left ankle due to a stubborn bone contusion.

Santana’s return this season seems unlikely – why push it when the team won’t be playoff bound? – and Davis’ career, not simply his season, is now in doubt.

A muscle strain occurs when the excessive load applied to a given muscle creates undue stress in the tissue, resulting in injury. Reyes’ proclivity to recurrent hamstring strains isn’t unique amongst athletes who have a history of suffering even one significant sprain. Vulnerability to re-injury requires vigilance in conditioning, and the nature of baseball puts a sensitive hamstring at frequent risk.

Reyes generates a lot of speed and power with his legs and he has not been quite as effective since his hamstring injury of early July. You may recall that Reyes also had surgery in 2009 to repair a torn right hamstring tendon (otherwise referred to as a Grade 3 strain). These issues are likely to plague him for the duration of his career.

Murphy’s injury is quite different. Ligaments connect bone to bone, providing stability at joints. A ligament sprain occurs with trauma when a ligament is stressed beyond its capacity to tolerate the load. Mild disruption of the fibers occurs with a Grade I sprain, a Grade II (like Murphy’s) causes more significant damage (considered a partial tear) and a Grade 3 is a complete rupture of the ligament.

Unlike tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which are generally repaired surgically, medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears are more often managed conservatively.

The MCL connects the femur (of the thigh) to the tibia in the lower leg, at the inner, or medial compartment of the knee joint. Laxity of the MCL permits excess motion at the inner joint (allowing the foot and lower leg to angle outward). Therapy will focus on controlling any inflammation and swelling, restoring range of motion, muscle strength and flexibility, balance, and ultimately on movement, agility and plyometrics (jumping, etc). Throughout, he will work to maintain his cardiovascular endurance.

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