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MCL Tear

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An MCL injury is an injury that results from a tear or sprain of the knee’s medial collateral ligament (MCL). The MCL runs along the inside of the knee and its role, as with the other knee ligaments, is to hold the knee bones together and stabilize and strengthen the joint. An MCL tear or sprain injury is usually the result of a blow you have received to the outside of the knee. If the force of the impact is significant, it can cause damage to the ligament on the other side of your knee.  Symptoms of an MCL tear or sprain may include pain, stiffness and swelling of the inner knee. Treatment of an MCL injury usually involves resting the ligament by keeping weight off the knee, as well as use of ice, NSAIDS and possibly a knee brace.  This injury can be classified as one of grades 1, 2 and 3 depending on extent of knee ligament damage.

Causes Of An MCL Tear Or Sprain

This injury is usually the result of activities that require sudden sharp changes in running direction. These may include sports like football, basketball or hockey.

You can also receive an MCL injury from a sharp blow to the knee from the outside. The MCL is supposed to keep the knee from bending inward. Hence, a blow of this type may place excessive strain on the ligament and cause it to stretch or tear. This type of blow may be received while playing contact sports like football or hokey in which there are frequent inter player collisions.

Symptoms Of An MCL Injury

If you have suffered an MCL tear or sprain, you will probably experience the following symptoms:

  • A popping sound or sensation at the time you receive the injury;
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling on the inside of your knee;
  • A feeling of “giving way” in your knee when you try to put weight on it. This instability is usually a sign that your MCL injury is of grade 2 or 3 in severity.

Treatment Of A Torn MCL

If your doctor determines that you have suffered an MCL tear, he or she will likely suggest that you allow your knee to rest by keeping weight off it for  few weeks. Try to sit or lie down as much as possible during this time. If you do have to move around, consider using crutches or a wheelchair.

Your doctor may also suggest wearing a knee brace designed to stabilize your knee and give your MCL a chance to recover. If your injury is severe, consider using a hinged knee brace for the additional support it gives.

Other things you can do to treat your MCL injury include the folowing:

  • Apply ice to reduce the swelling;
  • Also use NSAID medications like aspirin if the knee pain and swelling are severe;
  • Keep your injured knee elevated above your heart level as much as possible;
  • Wear a knee sleeve or elastic bandage to apply compression to the injured ligament.

Expect your MCL tear or sprain to require 3-4 weeks to heal if it is mild (grade 1). A more severe injury may require as long as 8-12 weeks. In either case, you may need to consult a physiotherapist for a rehabilitative exercise program that will help you regain full knee function as soon as possible.

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