Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tears
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is a strong, flat, fibrous band extending from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone) on the inside of the knee. At it's midpoint, some of it's fibers blend with the medial meniscus.
- Adds stability while standing with the leg is extended (knee straight)
- Limits rotation of the knee when the leg is flexed (knee bent)
An injury to the MCL may be isolated or a part of a complex injury with tears to the ACL and medial meniscus.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain, swelling, weakness and often instability of the knee
- At the time of injury, you might hear a pop and your knee may give away
What causes an MCL tear?
- Can be injured by a blow to the outside of the knee
- -Common in contact sports (e.g. football, soccer)
Initially treated with symptomatic management:
- Ice, elevation, physical therapy, and sometimes bracing
- -To reduce swelling, restore motion, strength and flexibility
If a patient remains symptomatic, surgical reconstruction of the ligament can be considered. This depends on severity of the injury and activity level of the individual.
Surgical Treatment: Knee Arthroscopy (MCL Reconstruction)
- Arthroscopic repair has the benefit of faster recovery compared to open techniques
- Not all repairs can be performed arthroscopically
- -Open technique may be required
- Torn ligament can be repaired or replaced with healthy strong tissue or graft
- -From your own hamstring or patellar tendon (autograft) or another source including cadaveric tissue (allograft)
- Physical Therapy is an integral component to your recovery from surgery
- -Appropriate timing and progression is key to the outcome
- For further details on your rehabilitation, please see the Physical Therapy section in Patient Resources.
- Protecting your knee and maintaining strength is important after formal physical therapy has ended.
- A brace may be required for high-risk activities of sport involving twisting and turning motions.