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What Is The Mcl In Your Knee

Sprained Knee Recovery Time

How To Tape The Inside Of Your Knee | MCL Injury

A knee sprain is considered healed when theres no more pain or swelling, and you can move your knee freely.

Many grade 1 and 2 knee sprains heal within two to four weeks. People who need surgery, however, may take as long as four to six months to recover.

About 80 to 90 percent of people with ACL injuries and 80 percent of those with PCL injuries will experience a full recovery. MCL and LCL sprains tend to heal quite well. However, some people with sprained ACL or PCL ligaments can develop arthritis in their knee over time.

Why Does An Mcl Injury Hurt Years Later

One of the most common reasons that MCL tears can hurt years later is because with a significant MCL injury, bone may actually form in the region of the tear rather than healing collagen fibers. This heterotopic ossification is called Pelligrini-Stieda disease. It may often show up years later on x-rays for somebody that had an MCL tear in the past. For those people who do have a lot of bone present, it can interfere with the collagen fibers from sliding from front to back as the knee bends, and this may cause some occasional irritation of this tissue. In addition, some people may have their MCL tear heal very thick and the increased thickness and scarring can be irritated if one does overdue it with long hikes or long runs even if one had an MCL tear, happen years previously. Surgery to treat this type of pathology is very rare and may only be indicated in people who have a lot of heterotopic ossification present that is causing their pain.

What Is A Mcl Sprain

MCL stands for medial collateral ligament and is located on the inside of the knee. The MCL originates on the femur and inserts on the tibia . The MCL splits slightly at the knee joint and some fibers also insert onto the medial meniscus . Due to attachment of the MCL on the medial meniscus, MCL sprains may also have an associated medial meniscus tear. An MCL sprain occurs when there is a direct force applied to the outside of the knee, pushing the knee inward. MCL sprains may also occur when a person sustains an ACL tear. There are 3 grades of sprains. A grade one sprain involves stretching and minor tearing of the MCL fibers; a grade two sprain involves partial tearing; and, a grade three sprain is a complete tear or rupture of the MCL. After sustaining any type of MCL injury, there may be difficulty bending and straightening the knee.

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How A Sprained Knee Is Diagnosed

The doctor will test the ligaments by stressing the individual ligaments to see if theres any instability or if the joint is stable.

If you injure your knee, see a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if you cant stand up, feel as though your knee will collapse, or your leg looks swollen or bulgy.

The doctor will examine your knee, look for swelling and bruising, and ask you to move it around to determine your mobility. Theyll compare it to your uninjured knee.

Theyll also want to know what you were doing when the injury happened, whether you heard a pop, and how long it took to become painful.

You may also be given imaging tests. An X-ray will show if theres a broken bone, but other imaging methods allow the physician to see different, non-bony structures inside your knee. This includes the ligaments and other tissues that support it.

Knee sprains are rated by severity. An overstretched ligament is grade 1. A partially torn ligament is grade 2. A ligament thats severely torn or separated is considered grade 3.

The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of your injury and what part of your knee was damaged.

What Is Mcl Surgery Recovery Time

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries

In the acute medial knee ligament tear situation, patients are placed into a brace and are enrolled in an early rehabilitation program to emphasize quadriceps reactivation, edema control and knee range of motion. The main rehabilitation exercise for MCL tears is the frequent use of a stationary bike.

For isolated acute MCL injuries, most athletes can return to sports by multiplying the grade of the injury by two as a general time frame. Thus, a grade I acute MCL injury usually needs 1-2 weeks to heal, while a grade II injury takes 3-4 weeks to heal and a grade III isolated complete MCL injury typically takes 5-6 weeks of properly guided rehabilitation to have the injury heal completely.

The use of a hinged MCL protective knee brace is also commonly recommended in the acute situation when the knee is significantly unstable. Thus, we recommend the patient be fitted by one of our brace specialists. They will properly fit the MCL brace, which is durable enough for desired activity levels.

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You Cant Put Weight On It

If its immensely painful to stand or put any weight on your injured knee, theres definitely something serious going on.

Inability to bear weight after a knee injury could be caused by a fracture, bone contusion, cartilage injury or ligament tear, explains Dr. Brown. Initial treatment includes using crutches or a steerable scooter to take pressure off the injured limb and minimize additional damage to the knee.

If this sounds like you, listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Dr. Brown warns that the old adage of no pain, no gain doesnt apply in this situation.

He advises seeking orthopedic evaluation as soon as possibleeven that same day if you can.

After a minor injury like a twist or fall, you might not be able to put weight on your leg immediately. Thats not necessarily a cause for alarm, but if you dont feel like youve recovered within a few minutes, this could indicate something more serious.

Its similar to when you injure a wrist or ankle. If you fall on your wrist or twist your ankle, you may experience searing pain for a moment or two. When the injury isnt severe, youre able to shake it off and resume your life after a few minutes at the most. However, if youve experienced a sprain, the pain doesnt subside. Instead, it gets worse.

The Basics Of Knee Ligaments Anatomy

To fully understand the function of each ligament, its useful to have a refresher course on basic knee anatomy.

Our knees are composed of the bottom part of the femur , the patella , and the top portion of the tibia . They are held together by soft tissue .

The names of these ligaments are:

  • Medial Collateral
  • Posterior Cruciate

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What Does One Do With A Chronic Mcl Tear

Patients who have a chronic MCL tear and who have instability need a complete workup to verify that the MCL tear is causing the problem and also to look at other associated body habitus issues which can affect the healing of the MCL tear. In general, chronic MCL tears in people who are knock-kneed have a much higher risk of causing symptoms and also having the surgery not work because of the extra stress placed on the inside of the knee when one is knock-kneed . Therefore, long leg x-rays to look at ones lower extremity alignment would be indicated in chronic MCL tears to determine if a surgery to take you out of the valgus alignment would be indicated concurrent with an MCL reconstruction. In addition, determining objectively the amount of gapping that one has to confirm that there is a complete MCL tear, with the use of bilateral valgus stress x-rays, is important to confirm the diagnosis. Physicians fingers are notorious for either underestimating or downplaying the amount of gapping that may occur, so confirming the amount of gapping objectively with the stress x-rays is one way to determine if the patient is having their symptoms from a complete MCL tear which has healed in an elongated position.

Why Should I Consider Mcl Surgery

How long does it take an MCL injury of the knee to heal?

If someone has a complete tear of the MCL conservative treatment may be an option. The leg would have to be placed in a knee immobilizer, typically locked in full extension, for several weeks to allow scar tissue to form and repair the MCL. After scar tissue has formed, the patient will need to attend physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding musculature. Surgical treatment involves repair of the MCL or reattachment of the ligament to the bone. Surgical repair is not done arthroscopically; it is an open procedure. Surgical repair is preferred for athletes that require excessive amounts of twisting and pivoting at the knee joint.

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How Are Tears In The Medial Collateral Ligament Treated

The medial collateral ligament has a good blood supply and usually responds well to nonsurgical treatment. Depending on how bad the injury is, it may be enough to rest the knee, wear a brace, take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and have physical therapy.

To keep the knee from moving, your doctor may recommend a lightweight cast or brace that allows your knee to move backward and forward but limits side-to-side motion. This usually is recommended for 72 hours. Depending on how well your pain and swelling improve, you may be able to start a rehabilitative program in a few days.

Once pain and swelling have gone down, you should be able to start exercises to restore strength and normal range of motion to your knee. If you are still sore while doing exercises, you should proceed slowly to prevent further irritation. It may take a week to eight weeks to completely recover, depending on the seriousness of your injury.

A torn medial collateral ligament is rarely treated with surgery. When surgery is done, it is usually done through a small incision on the inside of your knee. It is not done arthroscopically, since this ligament is not inside the knee joint.

If the medial collateral ligament has been torn where it attaches to the thighbone or shinbone, the surgeon will reattach the ligament to the bone using large stitches, a metal screw or a bone staple. If the tear was in the middle of the ligament, the surgeon will sew the torn ends together.

Do I Need An Mri Or Other Imaging

In most cases, the clinical exam findings are sufficient to guide an effective therapy program. If your therapist finds excessive laxity or pain, or suspects involvement of other knee structures, an MRI may be useful. This can help guide treatment decisions and can alter recovery timelines. An x-ray can be useful in chronic medial knee pain, which can help rule out conditions such as Pellegrini-Srieda Syndrome or multi-ligamentous injury.

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What Are The Causes Of Acl Tears

ACL injuries can happen when athletes change direction suddenly or twist without moving their feet. ACL tears can also occur when a person slows down abruptly or stumbles when landing from a jump.

Gender can be a factor regarding ACL injuries. Women’s ACL genes that control specific proteins related to ligament structure and integrity work differently than men.

What Is The Treatment For A Medial Collateral Ligament Injury

ACL Tears: To Fix or Not to Fix?

MCL sprains tend to heal with rest and physical therapy to help return range of motion and strengthen the muscles that surround and protect the knee. While sports are high-risk activities, may people injure their knees in their daily work and home routines. Primary care providers, orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers routinely assess and treat these patients. Physical therapists are often an important part of the treatment team.

Grade I and II sprains tend to heal within one to two weeks. The initial treatment often includes wearing a knee sleeve or hinged knee brace for comfort and protection and to increase range of motion and activity as tolerated. Patients will usually need crutches for a few days.

Health care providers usually treat grade III sprains similarly but forgo a knee sleeve for a hinged brace. Some health care professionals suggest immediate range of motion while others like to wait a few weeks before allowing the knee to move. Patients may return to play or work in six to eight weeks.

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How Are Cruciate Ligaments Injured

The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most common ligaments to be injured. The ACL is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion . Skiing, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk of ACL injuries.

The posterior cruciate ligament is also a common ligament to become injured in the knee. However, the PCL injury usually occurs with sudden, direct impact, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle.

What Does One Do With An Mcl Tear After A Total Knee Replacement

MCL tears after total knee replacements are notorious for being difficult to heal. These can occur from releases during surgery, which are required to be able to insert the prosthesis, or they can occur because of an injury after the knee replacement. Surgery to treat these complete MCL tears can be difficult because they require reconstruction and the blood supply is not as good in these patients who have had knee replacements and these patients are generally older. Therefore, in many patients, the use of an MCL brace for activities may be indicated rather than a big surgical reconstruction. In those patients who do require surgery, a careful assessment to their overall health, which includes whether they use tobacco products, if they have diabetes, and other medical issues, is necessary to determine the ability of a reconstruction to heal for them.

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Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Your PCL is the strongest ligament in your knee and therefore the least likely to sustain injury.

It connects the bottom of your femur to the top of your fibula in the back of your knee, and is responsible for controlling the backwards motion of the knee .

A PCL injury occurs when that ligament is stretched or torn and is often called an overextended knee.

Mcl Or Lcl Sprain Diagnosis

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injuries

To diagnose an MCL sprain or a LCL sprain, your doctor will take a complete history of the injury and assess your symptoms.

He or she will ask you:

  • How the MCL or LCL sprain happened.
  • What type of movement caused the knee injury
  • Whether you heard a pop.
  • Where and how much your knee hurts.
  • Whether the knee feels unstable.
  • Details about any prior knee injuries.

Next, your doctor will perform a physical exam of the knee to check the stability of the ligaments.

He or she may also order imaging tests such as x-rays and MRI scans to get a precise picture of the extent of damage to your MCL or LCL.

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Will An Mcl Injury Heal Itself

Many MCL injuries do have the ability to heal. This is especially true if the MCL is the only ligament torn around the knee. Partial MCL tears almost always heal, while complete MCL tears mostly heal. The MCL tears that are most concerning about whether they heal or not are those that occur with other ligament injuries in the knee, especially with the PCL, when the chance of healing for a complete MCL tear is low. In addition, MCL tears that completely tear off the femur and the knee gaps open on the inside with the knee out straight or when the MCL tears off its distal attachment on the tibia, are the main types of MCL tears which do not heal.

MRI scan demonstrating a tear of the medial collateral ligament off the femur. Tears off the femur, especially those with a knee that does not gap open when the knee is tested in full extension, have a higher chance of healing compared to MCL tears off the tibia.

Types Of Mcl Injuries

MCL injuries can be grades 1, 2, or 3:

  • A grade 1 MCL injury is the least severe. It means that your ligament has been stretched but not torn.
  • A grade 2 MCL injury means that your ligament has been partially torn. This usually causes some instability in your knee joint.
  • A grade 3 MCL injury is the most severe type of ligament injury. It occurs when your ligament has been completely torn. Joint instability is common in a grade 3 MCL sprain.

The symptoms of an MCL injury are similar to symptoms of other knee problems. Its important for your doctor to examine your knee to determine the problem.

The symptoms of an MCL injury may include:

  • a popping sound upon injury
  • pain and tenderness along the inner part of your knee
  • swelling of the knee joint
  • a feeling that your knee is going to give out when you put weight on it
  • locking or catching in the knee joint

Problems with knee stability typically indicate grade 2 or grade 3 injuries.

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Medial Collateral Ligament Injury Of The Knee

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What is a medial collateral ligament injury?

The medial collateral ligament is located on the inner aspect, or part, of your knee, but its outside the joint itself. Ligaments hold bones together and add stability and strength to a joint.

The MCL connects the top of the tibia, or shinbone, to the bottom of the femur, or thighbone.

An injury to the MCL is often called an MCL sprain. Ligament injuries can either stretch the ligament or tear it. MCL injury of the knee is usually caused by a direct blow to the knee. This type of injury is common in contact sports.

Its usually the result of a hit or blow to the outer aspect of the knee, which stretches or tears the MCL.


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