MCL stands for the medial collateral ligament. The MCL is part of your knee’s Ligaments, which help it move, support, and stabilize. Injuries to the MCL happen suddenly, often during sporting events.
The common knee ligament, medial collateral ligament (MCL), is a broad band of connective tissue that crosses the inside of the knee joint. The MCL supports the medial aspect (inside) of the knee joint. Like other ligaments, it is susceptible to stretch injury or tear (sprain) and this article explores the most common MCL injuries, in simple terms, along with treatment and rehab guides.
There is a medial and lateral collateral ligament for each knee. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are other major ligaments in the knee joint. This article tells about MCL injuries and their causes, symptoms, and treatments.
The MCL connects the top of the shinbone (tibia) to the bottom of the femur bone, which is the thigh bone. The MCL helps provide stability for your knee joint. It also helps prevent excessive side-to-side motion in your knee, which can lead to an injury like a torn ACL.
The MCL helps control motion in your knee joint. If your MCL is injured, you may experience pain, swelling, and instability in your knee joint.
The most common types of MCL injuries include:
1. Grade 1 MCL injury
2. Grade 2 MCL injury
3. Grade 3 MCL injury
Grade 1 is mild damage to the ligament that causes pain but no instability in the knee joint.
Grade 2 injuries involve partial tearing of the ligament and cause some instability in the knee joint.
Grade 3 injuries involve complete tearing of the ligament and cause severe instability in the knee joint.
The most common cause of medial collateral ligament injury (MCL) is hyperextension, which means that you overextend your knee beyond its normal range of motion.
MCL injuries are caused by twisting your knee while you’re running, cycling, or playing sports. They can also happen when you slip and fall on ice or snow. If you have an MCL injury, you’ll feel pain and swelling in your knee and have trouble moving it back and forth (flexing) or rotating it (bending).
The most common symptom is pain in the knee, which usually occurs during activity and gets worse with weight bearing. The knee may also feel unstable or “give out,” especially when trying to change direction or stop suddenly. Other symptoms include:
Pain on the inside of your knee gets worse when you bend or straighten your leg. This pain may get worse when you put pressure on your leg by standing on your toes or squatting down.
Swelling of the knee joint, especially after exercise or sports activities
Instability in your knee joint as demonstrated by giving way if you try to straighten it out forcefully (such as when trying to walk).
There are a few ways to prevent MCL injuries.
Resting and icing your knee is the first step in taking care of an MCL injury. Resting the knee means avoiding any activities that cause pain or discomfort. Ice helps reduce inflammation, which will help you heal faster.
Using knee braces can help support and stabilize the MCL as it heals. This helps protect against future injuries to the area and also increases comfort while walking or playing sports.
For minor MCL sprains, doctors often recommend RICE.
The “R” in RICE stands for rest: you should avoid putting weight on your injured knee until it heals. If you can’t bear weight on your knee at all, then crutches will allow you to get around without putting any stress on your knee at all.
The “I” in RICE stands for ice: wrap an ice pack in a towel and hold it against the injured area for 15 minutes every hour while awake (or as often as possible).
The “C” in RICE stands for compression: wrap an elastic bandage around your knee to help stabilize it while it heals.
The “E” in RICE stands for elevation: keep your leg elevated as much as possible (especially when sleeping), which will reduce swelling and keep pressure off of any bleeding vessels inside the joint capsule.
MCL injuries are common in sports like football and soccer because they require sudden twisting and turning motions that can put pressure on this ligament.
If you have an MCL injury, it’s important to get a brace for support. Most doctors recommend using one that has a hinge at the knee so you can bend your knee without restriction.
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine recommends wearing an MCL brace for four to six weeks after the injury occurs.
MCL injuries, or Medial Collateral Ligament injuries are common in sports; it is estimated that 3.2% of soccer players have MCL tears. While many athletes may ignore the pain in hopes that it will go away, MCL tears must be properly treated by a doctor to prevent further injury and potentially lengthy recovery times.