Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear/Sprain

The medial collateral ligament (MCL) runs along the inside of the knee and connects the femur to the tibia. MCL sprains can range from a mild stretch of the ligament to a complete tear. Occurring frequently in contact sports or as the result of falls, MCL injuries most often happen as a result of direct contact to the outside of the knee, which drives the knee inward, or a twisting of knee. Depending on the severity of the injury, symptoms can include pain, tenderness, and swelling on the inside of the knee as well as a feeling that your knee isn’t stable, difficulty bending your knee, and possible bruising. Upon injuring your knee, the first method of treatment is resting, applying ice and compress, and elevating the affected leg. A knee brace can also provide support to the knee if it feels unstable. If the pain doesn’t subside or it worsens, seek medical attention. Diagnosing an MCL injury includes physical examination as well imaging tests like x-ray and MRI. Even with MCL tears, treatment does not typically involve surgery as the ligament can usually heal on its own. Thus, physical therapy (PT) is a key aspect of non-surgical treatment. PT can involve strengthening exercises as well as exercises to help restore function and mobility, ice treatment, and massage. PTs might also prescribe a knee brace.