Medial collateral ligament injury

Medial collateral ligament

The MCL is the main ligament that supports the inside (medial side) of the knee. It is injured when it is over stretched, this usually happens due to a blow to the outside of the knee in a contact sport.

The patient feels pain along the inner aspect of the knee, and there may be an audible snap, crack, or tear. The knee may swell quite promptly or more gradually depending on severity. There may be difficulty walking, and the knee may feel unstable.

If you think you have this injury it is well worth getting it checked out by Mr Willis-Owen. It is best to stop activity to prevent further damage. It is important to treat the early phase with rest, ice, compression and elevation in order to minimise the bleeding and swelling. You should avoid any aggravating activities.

Treatment involves first confirming the diagnosis and establishing whether any other structures are damaged. Depending on the grade of the injury (from 1 to 3) bracing may or may not be advised, and further investigations such as an MRI scan may be needed. MCL injuries usually heal on their own with the correct bracing, but certain types of severe tears need surgery. Physiotherapy and anti-inflammatories are required. Usually a carefully directed graduated physiotherapy program is needed but recovery can be slow for severe injuries. Good early treatment and rehabilitation is required to prevent ongoing problems.