MCL Injury | Affton, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Affton, MO. For many athletes and physically active people, feeling that sudden “pop” in their knee creates a lot of doubts: Did I injure my MCL? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Affton, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, effective treatments. Physical therapy has proven to be an essential part of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Affton, MO are all licensed and average more than 15 years of individual experience. For treatment plans you know will be effective, call the Axes location most convenient for you you or schedule an appointment online.
How the MCL Works
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that attaches bones to each other and keeps joints stable. The MCL connects your upper shin bone to the inner surface of the bottom thigh bone, running along your inner knee, and keeps the knee from moving side to side. Its primary purpose is to guard against valgus stress, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. It is one of four ligaments that help control the knee, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which goes through the middle of your knee and controls rotation and prevents the knee from bending inward
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL inside the knee and the femur from sliding off the tibia
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is one of the biggest joints in the human body. It depends on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide support and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that can greatly affect your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just get around the house pain-free. Particular physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through research and studies to help patients reduce pain and get back to optimal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, which stretches the ligament beyond its normal range of motion, or a tear, where the ligament may fray partially or entirely separate from the bone. There are three grades to MCL injuries:
- Grade 1 — A grade 1 sprain or tear means that the ligament has been stretched, and less than 10% of the MCL has been torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee largely remains stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, usually to the middle layer of the MCL. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. Your knee will be significantly unstable. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel several other symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
However significant your MCL injuries, our expert Affton, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, alongside your doctor, create an extensive plan specially made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to safely.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. Most people often suffer and MCL injury because of a force to the outer edge of the knee. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated more than the ligament can stand. They can also take place when landing or unnatural bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while the rest of your body moves.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in athletic events that require a lot of cutting and jumping such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They can also occur in people who have to squat and lift heavy objects, either for athletic training or in the course of their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
If you suffer an MCL injury in Affton, MO, you’ll likely notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Feeling like the may buckle
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness along the inside of the joint
- Swelling, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes your knee may feel like it’s wobbling when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, or in other cases the knee feels too stiff. If you experience any of the above symptoms, cease any strenuous activity immediately and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Affton, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Affton, MO asking how the injury occurred. They’ll then bend your knee and apply slight pressure to the outside of it, noting how much pain you are in and whether or not your knee is unstable. They’ll also gently feel for swelling, and may compare your injured knee to the healthy one.
Most physical therapists or doctors that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Affton, MO are qualified to diagnose an MCL injury with the above procedures. Other tests to check severity or to confirm may include:
- An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the knee joint
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine the grade of your injury
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, to insure your femur, kneecap, tibia, and fibula have not fractured
Axes Physical Therapy also offers injury screening injury screenings at no cost or obligation to you. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL injury, Missouri law stipulates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
Treating an MCL Injury in Affton, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving pain, and using the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For sprains or slight tears, the R.I.C.E method, pain and swelling relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be enough for your body to heal itself.
More significant injuries will require professional physical therapy in order truly recover from your MCL injury and get back to the activities you love. You’ll also need to refrain from most physical activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in Affton, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from moving side to side while your MCL is still healing. With physical therapy, you’ll still continue icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Surgery is typically only needed with severe grade 1 MCL injuries, or if the MCL tear is accompanied by an ACL tear or other damage to the structures of the knee. The surgery is performed by using a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reconstruct the ligament. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If you do require surgery in Affton, MO, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the operation, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Do Physical Therapists in Affton, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The goal of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to design safe and evidence-backed exercises, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body get back to optimal movement health. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the strength in the muscles that power the joint, flexibility of ligaments and tendons, and range of motion to the joint so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- At the start, light movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and helps control motion
- Trigger point dry needling to further help the body’s natural healing process
- Blood flow restriction training to help you make greater strength gains while lifting lighter weights
- Athletic training and sports therapy for those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Affton, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created alongside your physician, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Affton, MO include:
- Vestibular Therapy
- Concussion Treatment
- Soft Tissue Mobilization
- Post Surgical Rehabilitation
- Shin Splint Treatment
- Direct Access Physical Therapy
- Gait Analysis
- Pelvic Floor Therapy
- Dry Needling Near Me
- Tendonitis Treatment
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Affton, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, especially if you’re used to being physically active, but there’s no reason it has to put you on the sideline forever. We know our clients trust us with their recovery, so the treatment method we plan for you will be safe and backed by evidence. We also strongly believe in patient education so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in Affton, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.