MCL Sprain: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

MCL Sprain: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Do you have an idea what is the function of the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) in your knee? It supports your leg so that it does not abnormally move inwards. Hence, your knee remains stable and can rotate freely. However, while it is a vital part of your body, it is sensitive to injuries. Therefore, this article will highlight one of the most common knee injuries: MCL Sprain - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.

MCL sprain may cause pain, inflammation, and instability. In addition, as it is in close connection with the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), it can significantly impact your knee position. These injuries are likely to occur during contact sports when your MCL bears excessive pressure.

What are the Symptoms?

If your MCL is ripped, you may experience knee pain. And when this tear sprains the ligament, the pain intensifies. You may also notice a popping (ligament tear) sound at the time of injury. Your knee might also be inflamed, swelled, or stiff. While you can only feel an inflammation and stiffness, swelling is clearly visible as shown in swollen knee pictures. Hence, it will disturb your knee stability and movements. So, you may feel that your knee might give way, or you may even develop patellar tracking disorder.

How to Diagnose?

If you feel knee discomfort, you may try some home remedies. However, if it does not improve your condition, then you must visit a physician. A doctor is likely to inquire about the activity that caused the injury and the symptoms you experience.  

MCL tear can be easily diagnosed through physical examination. In addition, though, sometimes your doctor may recommend imaging tests like MRI and x-ray scans to be sure about the diagnosis.

What is the Treatment?

One of the critical treatments of medial knee injury is physical therapy. This technique supports a person to regain normal knee movement.

Some effective home remedies include ice therapy that may help reduce pain and inflammation. For this, you can take a handful of crushed ice wrapped in a piece of cloth and rub it against the injured knee for fifteen to twenty minutes. You may reapply it after every two hours for optimal results. You can also elevate your knee to relieve symptoms.

Another key to a better life with an MCL tear is resting, as it accelerates the healing process. You should abandon any rigorous activities that put unnecessary strain on your knee.

If your doctor feels that MCL tear might not heal or more than one ligament is damaged, they are likely to recommend surgery. Surgery may help rewire or reattach ligament ends to the bone.

How to Protect?

You must protect your knee during MCL sprain recovery time to help prevent further damage and speed up healing. You may wear an MCL brace to avoid any slanting movement of your knee joint. However, if your injury is deep, your physician may recommend using crutches as it will save your knee from extra pressure. Hence, it is the best way to protect your MCL.

MCL Sprain Healing Exercises

There are some special physical therapy techniques and exercises that can help you regain your normal knee movement. These gentle workouts can fortify your knee muscles and support healing.

Hamstring Curl

  • Stand upright while involving your belly muscles.

  • Stand on a single leg, and gradually flex your opposite knee by carrying your heel up towards the buttocks.

  • Maintain this position for 30 seconds.

  • Then repeat on the other side.

(You may grab a chair for support)

Wall Slide

  • Stand upright while both your feet lay flat on the floor.

  • Fix your backbone firmly on the wall.

  • Gradually slide down while you fix your spine against the wall unless it shifts into a squat position.

  • Maintain for 30 seconds.

  • Shove up from your feet to stand up while keeping your backbone flat against the wall.

  • Repeat this exercise at least ten times

Chair Squat

  • Stand on a single leg, gradually squat in the direction of the chair.

  • Then stand up again on one leg.

  • Flex at your waist and make sure your body is aligned while standing.

You may require a lot of practice to professionally squat on the chair ensuring that you don't experience knee pain when squatting.

How to Recover?

You must understand that the road to recovery is different for every individual. However, it mainly depends on the severity of the MCL injury, your ability, and care. As per the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), it may take 15 days on average for a slight MCL tear to recover. Accordingly, severe MCL damage might take sixty days or more.

When you talk about recovery, it means you can walk adequately (without wobbling) or rotate the knee without discomfort. However, regular movements and muscle strengthening exercises can play a crucial role in speedy recovery and preventing further damage.

Your physician or physiotherapist may better advise you on when to resume your routine activities. The majority of the doctors or physical therapists recommend improving the condition through a knee support to speed up the MCL tear recovery.

How to Prevent More Damage?

If you are a part of contact sports, you are more vulnerable to knee injuries, of which one example is MCL rip. However, you are also likely to suffer from an MCL tear after an accident that involved your knee. Usually, when your knee is hit, it twists and turns abnormally and places undue pressure on the knee. If your knee is not able to withstand the intense pressure, it may damage.

Hence, you should try to avoid these situations by warming up and practicing knee strengthening exercises. You must know that if your muscles and tendons are strong and flexible, they are likely to stretch instead of ripping apart. So, it is the best approach to save yourself from such mishaps.

Also, you should be careful about your footwear. Try to wear well-fitted, comfortable, and appropriate shoes during sports or other strenuous activities, as it will reduce the risk of injury. If you are an active sportsman, you must consult expert sources to minimize knee injuries during different activities.

If you continue to work out or play sports with an injury, your risk of damage may increase. Even running on rough surfaces may damage your knee ligaments. If you still want to do it, you should consider taking knee support for running.

So, if you suffer from an MCL injury, you must give yourself sufficient time to heal under the supervision of a doctor.

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