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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

What are MCL Injuries?

The MCL is your medial collateral ligament, which controls the side-to-side motion of your knee. It is located on the inner side of your knee, connects your thigh and shin bones, and helps to keep your knee stable. An injury to this ligament often occurs due to a direct impact that causes your MCL to over-extend and tear.

How Do You Know if You Tore Your MCL?

If you have an MCL injury, you will probably experience a few of the following symptoms around the inner knee:

  • Immediate pain and swelling

  • A popping sensation or sound

  • Tenderness

  • Pain that worsens after a few hours

  • Bruising

  • Instability or looseness in the knee

  • Stiffness and impacted range of motion

  • Difficulty bearing weight

Often, damage to the MCL can occur alongside injuries to other knee ligaments. Many people tear their MCL and ACL simultaneously, especially skiers who are injuries on the mountain.

Depending on the severity of your MCL injury, the ligament could be stretched (considered a sprain), a partial tear, or a complete tear. Because symptoms of MCL injuries are similar to each other - and because symptoms are similar to other knee problems - it's essential to have your knee diagnosed by an orthopaedic knee specialist.

Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery specialize in knee injuries. To diagnose your MCL tear, Dr. Joseph will perform a physical exam along with imaging tests.

Accurately determining the extent of your MCL injury will help Dr. Joseph develop a treatment plan to get you back on your feet.

Can MCL Tears Heal On Its Own?

The vast majority of MCL injuries can heal without surgery. Dr. Joseph may recommend a few or all of the conservative treatment strategies:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Non-prescription anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Bracing

  • Crutches

  • Physical therapy

  • Platelet Rich Plasma injections

While most people can recover from their MCL injury after a few weeks of nonsurgical treatment, Dr. Joseph may recommend surgery in the following situations:

  • Severe MCL tears

  • Multiple knee ligaments are torn

  • If the MCL is located in an area of the knee with low blood supply, meaning it’s unlikely to heal on its own

  • People experiencing chronic MCL injuries

  • The Patient is an elite athlete

Surgery for an MCL tear is similar to treating a torn ACL. Dr. Joseph will either reattach the torn MCL or perform an MCL graft, where tissue from another part of the body is used to reconstruct the torn MCL.

Treating an MCL Tear in Eagle and Summit County

If you’ve injured your MCL, contact Dr. Joseph at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery today! Practicing out of three clinics in Summit and Eagle County, Dr. Joseph can often take same-day or next-day urgent care appointments.

Schedule your appointment today by calling (970)476-7220 or filling out Dr. Joseph’s online request form. Treat your MCL immediately and professionally, so you can get back to doing the activities you love!

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