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Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

  • What is Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury?

    The medial collateral ligament (MCL) goes from the inside of the upper shin bone (tibia) to the inside of the bottom of the thigh bone (femur) and keeps the shin bone stable. An MCL injury can be grouped into a partial tear or complete tear of this ligament:

    There are 3 grades of MCL injury:

    • Grade 1 injury – partial tear of the ligament with mild symptoms (usually no swelling)
    • Grade 2 injury – partial tear with moderate symptoms (tenderness at affected area and instability of knee)
    • Grade 3 injury – complete tear with severe symptoms (varying pain, instability of knee and other ligaments in the knee may also be torn)
  • The MCL is usually injured by pressure or stress to the outside of the knee. This force causes the outside of the knee to twisted and the inside to widen. When the ligament stretches too far, it is prone to tearing and injury. This injury can be caused by the action of ‘clipping’ in a football game, which is when a player throws weight behind the back of the leg of another player.

  • Symptoms of an MCL injury are:

    • Instability – the knee gives way or feels like it is going to give way
    • Swelling at the knee
    • Locking or catching (stuck in a bent position) of the knee with movement
    • Pain and tenderness along the inside of the joint
  • Treatment includes:

    • Applying ice to the area to reduce pain and swelling
    • Resting and limiting physical activity until the pain and swelling lessens
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling
    • Raising the knee above heart level to reduce swelling
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