What You Need to Know About MCL Injuries

knee injury

Your MCL or medial collateral ligament can be found on your knee’s inner portion, but outside your knee joint. Your ligaments keep your bones together and provide extra strength and stability to your knee. Specifically, your MCL connects your tibia’s topmost portion to your thighbone or femur’s bottom portion.

When this gets injured, it’s usually due to tearing it, overstretching it, or a hit to your knee such as when playing contact sports.

How Do I Know if I Have an MCL Tear?

The most common warning indications of an MCL tear are very similar to those of other knee injuries. So you must have your knee evaluated to figure out your specific issue. Your local knee surgeon here in Orem might recommend treatment or even surgery.

This is if your MCL is torn in a manner that would make it impossible to heal itself or if your injury has co-occurring ligament injuries. That said, common symptoms include the following:

  • Swollen knee joint
  • Tenderness and pain along the knee’s inner portion
  • A popping noise
  • Catching or locking of the knee
  • A sensation that your affected knee won’t hold when putting pressure on it

The severity of your symptoms will mainly depend on what grade your MCL injury is as MCL injuries come in three classes:

  • Grade I – stretched MCL.
  • Grade II – partially torn MCL. Typically results in instability to the knee joint.
  • Grade III – most severe MCL injury marked by significant knee joint instability and a completely torn MCL.

Treatment Options for MCL Injuries

physical therapist

Treatment for MCL injuries varies based on how severe the injury is. Generally speaking, however, grade I injuries can be treated with home remedies, while grade II and III injuries might require more intensive treatments.

Regardless of the grade of your MCL injury, however, it will require immediate treatment to help stabilize the affected knee joint and alleviate pain. Immediate treatment typically includes the following: ice application for reducing swelling, and taking NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds.

It also involves ample rest, elevating the injured knee to decrease swelling further, using crutches for keeping pressure off the affected knee and using a knee brace or bandage for compressing the injured knee.

Depending on the severity of MCL injury, you might likewise need to undergo rehabilitation to prevent complications and restore your knee stability and strength. Rehab usually involves physical therapy for improving range of motion and restoring strength to your healing knee.

It can likewise involve limiting movements and tasks that could further exacerbate your knee and wearing protective devices when performing physical activities. MCL injuries rarely require surgical intervention.

A Vital Note on Recovery

The outlook is typically very good for MCL injuries regardless of whether you had surgery or not. Duration of recovery, however, will vary based on your MCL injury’s severity. For instance, grade I injuries may only need a couple of days to a week to heal.

Grade II injuries may require up to a month to completely recover, while grade III injuries may need up to two months. The main thing to remember is that they do heal with the right treatment interventions.