The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a ligament on the inside of the knee joint that helps to keep the knee stable. When a ligament is stretched, partially torn, or fully torn, it results in an MCL injury.
MCL injuries are common in sports, especially in contact sports such as football, rugby, and basketball. They can also occur from falls or other accidents.
Symptoms of MCL injury
The symptoms of an MCL injury can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some people may have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily activities.
Common symptoms of an MCL injury include:
- Pain on the inside of the knee
- Swelling on the inside of the knee
- Instability of the knee joint
- Difficulty moving the knee joint
- Bruising on the inside of the knee
MCL Injury Treatment Guide
The severity of your MCL injury will determine the treatment. First, it will focus on stabilizing the knee and reducing pain. Then, once your doctor has cleared you, a physical therapist or another medical professional, you can start working on strengthening and mobility of the knees. Surgery is usually not required in most cases but is reserved for certain MCL injuries. Continue reading to learn about MCL injury treatment.
The MCL runs inside the knee and connects to the tibia (shinbone), the lower portion of the femur (thighbone), and the tibia. When there is heavy contact with the outside of their knees, people tend to injure the MCL. The MCL prevents the knee joint from bending inwardly and can be injured.
Initial treatment for MCL knee injuries begins with the RICE acronym. The RICE acronym stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Based on the severity of your injury, your doctor may recommend additional treatments. We will discuss the conservative, at-home treatment options you can immediately start after a knee injury.
The best way to reduce swelling is cold therapy. The pain signal from your brain is cut off by the cold, which reduces pain. The cold also causes blood vessels to contract, which reduces swelling. Place a cold therapy pack on the injured knee for the first three days. However, it would be best not to fall asleep with a cold pack, as it can cause skin damage.
SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy pack for MCL Injury Treatment:
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You will need to immobilize your leg immediately after the MCL injury. It will stabilize your knee joint and protect the ligament from further damage. A restrictive knee brace is used to immobilize your knee. In addition, you can reduce swelling and pain in your knee by giving it some rest.
Avoid Weight-Bearing Activities
You must listen carefully to your body after an MCL injury to determine the appropriate weight bearing. You should avoid long-distance walking if you have a mild MCL injury. If you have an MCL tear, you may need to stop carrying any weight for a while. Talk to your doctor before you begin moving. He will help you determine how much activity and weight your knee joint can take.
While your knee heals, you may need crutches or a walker.
Rest your knee and place a blanket or pillow under it to elevate your knee. Elevation will encourage fluid to return to the heart, decreasing swelling and pain. You can elevate your knee while you are watching TV or lying down.
Anti Inflammatory Medication
An MCL injury can cause severe knee pain and swelling. The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, will help to reduce inflammation and pain. These medications can be purchased in pharmacies and are considered safe. However, to avoid unintended side effects, it is important to consult your doctor before you start any new medication.
Each patient's recovery process will differ depending on their injury's severity. Before you begin any exercise or recovery activities, talk to your doctor. There are many ways to speed up your recovery after you've been cleared.
Exercises for MCL injury treatment will strengthen your muscles, such as the hamstrings, to prevent further injury. Start with simple exercises that aren't weight-bearing. You will feel more confident once you have gained some experience. Next, you can use your range of motion to strengthen your knees and legs.
A knee brace can prevent your knee from moving side to side but still allow you to move it up or down. There are many braces, but you want to protect your knees. Look for one with hinged sides. Wear your knee brace to feel supported during your daily activities and prevent unintentional movements from causing further injury to your MCL.
An elastic bandage or knee sleeves can provide gentle support if you don't need a brace. This compression device works by compressing your knees and surrounding areas. It will reduce swelling and pain and provide minimal knee joint support. The most significant benefit of wearing a compression device to reduce swelling and pain is increased body awareness. In addition, it will make it less likely to injure your knee with your movements.
A physical therapist has the professional training to help with injuries such as MCL tears and sprains. Your physical therapist will assess your injury and recommend appropriate stretches and exercises. You will be guided through each movement by your physical therapist. They may also ask you to practice some moves at home. In addition, they will assist you in finding the correct device, such as crutches or braces, if you require mobility assistance.
An MCL injury requires a very rare surgical procedure. This procedure is reserved for elite athletes, patients with multiple ligament tears, or those with persistent knee instability despite nonsurgical treatment. In addition, your surgeon may order imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans to assess the injury.
Reattaching or reconstructing damaged ligaments is the most common type of surgery. However, the recovery time can vary from one patient to another. You can speed up your recovery by following your surgeon's instructions and continuing with your physical therapy program.
Preventing MCL Injury
There is no surefire way to prevent an MCL injury, but there are several things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:
- Warm up before participating in sports or activities that put your knees at risk. Warming up helps to prepare your muscles and ligaments for activity, making them less likely to be injured.
- Wear protective gear, such as knee pads, when participating in sports or activities that put your knees at risk. Knee pads can help to absorb impact and protect your knee joints from injury.
- Be careful when using tools or equipment that could hit your knees. Wear safety glasses and gloves when using tools such as hammers or saws. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid working where objects could hit your knees.
- Avoid overuse. If you experience pain in your knee, stop the activity and rest. Continuing the activity could make the injury worse.
- Strengthen the muscles around your knee. Strong muscles help to support the knee joint and reduce the risk of injury. Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles are especially beneficial.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts additional stress on your joints, including your knee joints.
- Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet gives your body the necessary nutrients to build and repair tissues.
Here are some additional tips for preventing MCL injuries:
- Improve your balance and coordination. This can help to reduce your risk of falling and twisting your knee.
- Learn proper running and jumping techniques. This can help to reduce the stress on your knee joints.
- Avoid running on uneven surfaces. This can increase the risk of twisting your knee.
- Wear supportive shoes. Shoes that fit well and provide good support can help reduce the risk of foot and ankle injuries, leading to knee injuries.
If you have any medical conditions that weaken your ligaments or tendons, such as arthritis or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, taking precautions to prevent MCL injuries is especially important.
By following these tips, you can help reduce your MCL risk and keep your knee joints healthy.
Healing Your MCL Injury
MCL injury treatment starts with conservative treatments such as rest, cold packs, and compression. Next, you can further protect your knee by using a knee brace. Also, you can begin strengthening exercises for your lower and upper legs. Finally, consulting a physical therapist can help you quickly get back on your feet. You must consult your doctor before beginning any new treatment to ensure that you are on the right track to recovery.