MCL Sprains

The MCL is the Medial Collateral Ligament. The MCL is a broad and thick band that runs down the inner part of the knee, from the femur (thighbone) to about five inches from the top of the tibia (shinbone). The MCL’s primary function is to prevent the leg from over extending inward. However, it also is part of the mechanism that stabilizes the knee and allows it to rotate.

Grades of MCL Sprains

  • Grade 1 MCL Sprain may be mild tenderness on the middle of the knee over the ligament. There is little to no swelling. Grade one MCL Sprain consists of fewer than ten percent of the fibers be torn.
  • Grade 2 MCL Sprain consists of significant tenderness that will be felt on the inside of the knee along the medial ligament. When Valgus stress testing is applied, there is pain with mild to moderate laxity in the joint. The knee will not be able to be bent completely sideways.
  • Grade 3 MCL sprain is when there is a complete tear of the MCL. Pain can vary and may not be as painful as a grade 2 MCL sprain. Valgus testing will show significant joint laxity and the knee may be unstable.

Grade 1 MCL Sprains

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Pain and Tenderness on the medial aspect of the knee
  • Minor Swelling and Tenderness
  • Treatment
  • Prompt return to weight-bearing activities to encourage full range of motion
  • Apply ice or use a Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap
  • Safe strengthening activities that do not do any cutting or twisting of injured knee
  • Anti-inflammatory medication for one to two weeks
  • Bracing with a hinged brace to support MCL
  • One to four week recovery time

Grade 2 MCL sprains

  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Popping sound upon injury
  • Pain and tenderness along the inner part of the knee
  • Swelling of the knee joint
  • Feeling that your knee is going to give out when you put weight on it
  • Locking or catching in the knee joint
  • Treatment
  • Protect the ends of the ligament
  • Avoid applying significant stresses to the healing structures
  • Reduce swelling
  • Crutches may be helpful
  • Temporary knee brace
  • Apply ice or use a Super Cool Therapeutic Knee Wrap
  • Physical therapy may help diminish swelling and encourage return to full motion
  • Safe strengthening activities that do not involve twisting or cutting
  • Anti-inflammatory medication for one to two weeks
  • gradually return to weight training
  • functional testing and running program

How to Test for MCL injury

  • Observation Palpitation
  • Doctor will look for swelling, bruising and deformity and will feel around joint for tenderness, warmth, or swelling
  • History
  • Patients usually have recent extensive Valgus force applied to a partially flexed knee
  • Pain and stiffness are localized to medical knee
  • Erythema may appear after several days
  • Location of pain and swelling can be good indicators of which structures are damaged in the knee
  • Instability or mechanical symptoms-popping sensation
  • Patient is in the supine position with knee flexed 25-30 degrees
  • Examiner places hand on the lateral knee and grasps the medial ankle with the other hand to
  • abduct the knee
  • Pain and laxity indicate stretching or tearing MCL
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