Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear
What is a Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear?
A medial collateral ligament tear, otherwise known as an MCL tear, is a sports-related injury that is common to contact sports such as football, soccer, and field hockey.
The medial collateral ligament is a long band of connective tissue that runs along the inside of your knee. It is used to anchor your shin and thigh bones together and stabilize them during movement.
If the outside edge of an athlete's knee takes a strong enough impact, the thin band of tissue that comprises the MCL can stretch to the point of severe strain or even breakage. The injury occurs as a result of the force of impact over-extending the knee joint, thus straining the connective tissue. Although it is most common in people who play contact sports, an MCL tear can occur in anyone if the knee is suddenly forced in the wrong direction.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear Symptoms
An MCL tear is a very noticeable and distinct condition, and thus is easy to self-diagnose. Some of the symptoms of a medial collateral ligament tear include:
- Severe pain along the inside of the knee
- A displaced or sideways lurch to the knee joint
- Difficulty supporting weight
- An audible pop sound at the time of impact
- Unsteady gait
- Stiffness in mild cases
The most pronounced symptom is pain. Immediately after impact, an MCL injury will make a loud popping sound, followed by immense pain and swelling. Stiffness and the inability to support weight or otherwise walk properly follows soon after.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear Diagnosis
Because most of the symptoms happen immediately upon impact, the diagnosis of an MCL tear is fairly simple. Your doctor may push on the knee joint and attempt to flex your leg to determine the extent of the damage. Additionally, they may order an MRI to better see how badly the ligament is torn. In extreme cases, a doctor may order an x-ray to determine if there is a broken bone on top of the MCL tear.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear Treatment Options
Treatment for an MCL tear is fairly straight forward. Time and rest are the best course of treatment to quickly heal the affected MCL. Icing and elevating your knee can help speed recovery, and simple over the counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen can assist with pain management.
Physical therapy is sometimes required for cases with a long heal time. Surgery is very rare for MCL tears and is only reserved for the worst cases in which other parts of the knee joint are also damaged. If you do find yourself in need of an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Gustavel can help. Please feel free to contact our office with any questions regarding your knee condition, or to schedule a consultation.
Contact Gustavel Orthopedics in Boise, Idaho
When you experience any sort of physical trauma or pain, the last thing you want to worry about is the quality of specialized care you deserve. Dr. Michael Gustavel is a renowned Orthopedic Surgeon in Boise, Idaho with Orthopedic Care practice since 2002. We pride ourselves in patient care & independence in health care choice. Please feel free to contact us if you think you are experiencing symptoms of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear.