What is Medial Collateral Ligament?
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is the stabilizing ligament on the inside of the knee (the medial side). It can get injured when a side-bending force is applied to the knee, causing the knee to collapse inward. One common way to injure the MCL is to get hit from the side, for example when a player is hit in a football or soccer game.
What are the symptoms of MCL sprains and tears?
A person who sustained an MCL injury may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Immediate sharp pain from the inner section of the knee.
- Bruising around the knee, especially around the inner knee.
- A “popping” sound when the injury occurs.
- Tenderness around the inner knee.
- Noticeable looseness in the knee.
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Diagnosing an MCL Injury
With a detailed physical examination an MCL tear can be diagnosed almost in all occasions. In addition an X-ray will show the bones in your knee and an MRI scan will give a closer look at the knee ligaments. For patients with claustrophobia or anxiety, an open MRI scan can be done.
What are the different grades of MCL tear?
Based on the scans and physical examination, surgeons classify MCL tear as one of the following grades:
- Grade I: A partial MCL tear
- Grade II: A near complete MCL tear
- Grade III: A complete MCL tear with a non-functional ligament
What is the treatment for MCL tear?
Most medial ligament injuries do not require surgical treatment. It is thought there is no advantage even with grade 3 injuries to treating them surgically as opposed to bracing and rehabilitation exercises.
If there is additional damage to the joint for example an ACL tear as well then surgery may be considered.