MCL Tear – Plano, TX
MCL or the Medial Collateral Ligament refers to a thick band of connective tissue that lies inside the knee joint and connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (lower leg). There are four ligaments that balance the knee joint and MCL is one of them. The main role of MCL is to enable movement of leg and thigh while keeping the joint stable. The MCL ligament also prevents excessive sideways bending of the knee. Stretching, loosening or tearing of MCL ligament is collectively termed as the MCL injury or tear. MCL Tear can be graded as follows:

  • Grade 1- Only few fibers of the ligament are damages or torn and the joint remains functional
  • Grade 2- Many fibers get torn but the ligament remains intact although joint functioning is affected
  • Grade 3- There is a complete tearing of the ligament and it is considered as a serious injury

Causes Of MCL Tear

  • Sport activities that involve sudden change in direction such as football, rugby, hockey etc.
  • Bending the knee suddenly or beyond its capacity
  • Direct hit or trauma to the joint
  • Jumping from a considerable height
  • Twisting of the lower leg may stress the knee
  • Vehicular accidents
  • Recreational activities like skiing may cause MCL tear

Symptoms Of MCL Tear

  • Considerable pain which can set in immediately post injury
  • Swelling and tenderness in knee area.
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Limited range of motion
  • Bruising on the inner side of the knee
  • Hearing a popping sound at the time of injury
  • Joint locking
  • Instability or weakness in joint

Diagnosis Of MCL Tear

  • Thorough clinical examination of the injured knee and the details of time and mode of injury are taken into consideration
  • X-ray imaging
  • MRI and CT scan may be required for detailed view of the soft tissue structures

Treatment For MCL Tear

Grade 1 injuries can be treated through conservative methods of treatment while the others require surgical intervention in some cases. These may include the following:

  • Rest the injured leg by keeping it elevated at chest level
  • Apply ice packs to curb swelling and pain within the first 48-72 hours of injury
  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed
  • A soft bandage may be used for compression
  • Ultrasound therapy may help heal the tissues
  • Physical therapy is recommended to restore movement, strengthening the supporting muscles and to generate flexibility
  • Crutches may be used to prevent stress on the joint
  • Activity modification may be recommended
  • In case of grade 3 injuries, arthroscopic examination of the ligament may be carried out to assess the joint’s condition and if required the ligament may be stitched back to allow it to reposition itself.
  • Sutures, staples and metal screws or wires may be used to secure the torn ligament and keep it stable