Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

What is Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury?

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) goes from the inner side of the upper shin bone (tibia) to the inner side of the bottom of the thigh bone (femur). It keeps the shin bone stable. Injury to this ligament can be a stretch, partial tear or complete tear.

There are three grades of MCL injury:

  • Grade 1 injury — incomplete tear of the ligament with mild symptoms
  • Grade 2 injury — incomplete tear with instability and moderate symptoms
  • Grade 3 injury — complete tear with instability and severe symptoms; other ligaments in the knee may also be torn

MCL is usually injured by pressure or stress to the outer side part of the knee, causing the outside of the knee to buckle and the inside to widen. The MCL is susceptible to tearing and injury when it is stretched too far. This injury can be caused by the action of “clipping” in a football game.

Symptoms of a tear in the MCL include:

  • Instability, the knee gives way or feeling as if it was going to give way
  • Knee swelling
  • Locking or catching of the knee with movement
  • Pain and tenderness along the inside of the joint

Treatments may include:

  • Applying ice to the area to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Limiting physical activity until the pain and swelling subside
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Raising the knee above heart level to reduce swelling
  • Resting the leg to reduce swelling

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