Medial Collateral Ligament Injury Physiotherapy Treatment

Medial collateral ligament injury

The Medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a crucial component of the medial knee, providing stability and preventing the joint from moving side to side. MCL injuries commonly occur due to direct impact or force that pushes the knee inward, leading to stress or tearing of the ligament.

An MCL injury can range from a mild sprain to a complete rupture, significantly impairing mobility and causing considerable discomfort in the knee.

Medial collateral ligament injury is the most common knee injury seen in athletes. Understanding the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and appropriate treatment options, including physiotherapy, is crucial for managing MCL injuries effectively.

Physiotherapy treatment can help to reduce pain and swelling and improve knee stability. Treatment may include exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee and to improve range of motion.

Medial Collateral Ligament Injury Treatment

Medial collateral ligament

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a tissue band that runs down the inner side of the knee. It connects the femur( thigh bone ) to the tibia ( shinbone )and helps to stabilize the knee joint. The medial collateral ligament is one of the four major ligaments stabilizing the knee joint. The MCL is responsible for preventing the knee from collapsing inwards (valgus force) and for providing stability to the knee when the leg is flexed.

Causes of medial collateral ligament injury

MCL injuries are typically caused by

  • Direct Impact: A blow or forceful impact to the lateral side of the knee can force it inward ( valgus force), causing the ligament to stress or tear.
  • Twisting: Sudden twisting or pivoting motions can strain the MCL.
  • Sports Injuries: Athletes engaging in high-impact sports such as football and martial arts and activities that involve lots of twisting, jumping, sprinting, and abrupt changes in direction are at higher risk.

In addition to acute injuries, the medial collateral ligament can be damaged over time through repeated stress and pressure, such as lifting heavy objects.

Symptoms of MCL injury

The symptoms of an MCL injury can vary based on the severity of the tear. Most people who tear their MCL feel a “pop” in their knee when the injury happens. The symptoms can include

  • Pain: Pain along the medial side of the knee, particularly when walking or bending.
  • Swelling: Swelling often occurs within hours of the injury.
  • Stiffness: Difficulty moving the knee, especially when bending or straightening.
  • Instability: Some individuals may feel their knee is giving way or unstable and cannot support their weight when standing on the injured leg.

Risk factors for MCL injury

Certain factors can increase the risk of an MCL injury. These include:

  • Age: MCL injuries are most common in younger adults due to increased sports activity.
  • Sports: People who play contact sports like football, soccer, rugby, basketball and skiing are at a higher risk.
  • Previous MCL injury: Once an MCL has been strained or torn, the chances of the injury occurring again increase.
  • Gender: Male athletes are at a greater risk than female athletes.
  • Joint laxity: People with naturally looser ligaments may be more susceptible to injury.

Medial collateral ligament injury treatment options

Most MCL injuries don’t require surgery, and a non-surgical approach is often preferred initially. It can be treated at home with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicine. In some cases, crutches and a knee brace may be recommended to reduce further strain. Physical therapy is also a common part of the treatment plan to help with strength and flexibility after the injury.

In severe cases, such as a grade 3 tear where the ligament is completely torn, surgery may be required.

Medial Collateral Ligament Injury Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapy treatment for medial collateral ligament injury

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the recovery from an medial collateral ligament injury. The goal is to rebuild the strength of the knee muscles and regain motion. This can involve exercises such as stationary cycling and specific strength and flexibility exercises, including

  • Range of motion exercises: Gradual movements to improve joint flexibility.
  • Strengthening exercises: Focusing on the strength of the muscles around the knee to enhance stability.
  • Balance and proprioception training: Activities to improve coordination and spatial awareness.
  • Functional exercises: Simulating real-life movements to ensure the knee can handle daily activities.
  • Modalities: Heat, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be used to manage pain and aid recovery.

Recovery timeline

MCL injuries vary in severity, but most individuals can return to normal activities within a few weeks or months with proper care. Severe cases may require a more extended recovery period.

It should be noted that in the initial phase of recovery, the knee should be protected with a short-hinged brace for 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. Crutches and restricted weight bearing may also be needed.

Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or physiotherapist to determine the best treatment plan for your specific injury.

Opal Physiotherapy Clinic in Langley provides physiotherapy treatment for medial collateral ligament injuries. Our team of physiotherapists will develop a personalized treatment plan for you based on the severity of your injury.

Our experienced and qualified physiotherapists are dedicated to helping our patients recover from their injuries. We will work with you to help you regain full function of your knee and get you back to your normal activities as soon as possible.

If you have a medial collateral ligament injury, seeing our physiotherapist as soon as possible is important. Early treatment can help to reduce the risk of further injury and to speed up the healing process.