MCL Injury | Barretts, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Barretts, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, feeling that sudden “pop” in their knee creates a lot of anxiety: Did I injure my MCL? How bad is the injury? How long will it take to recover? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Barretts, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are committed to positive patient experiences. While we’d like to be able to make your MCL injury go away, we can make your recovery safe and effective through personalized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an essential aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Barretts, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call the Axes location most convenient for you you or request an appointment online.
What is the MCL?
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that connects bones to each other and helps hold structures with the musculoskeletal system together. The MCL runs from the inside of your upper shin bone to the inside of your bottoms thigh bone and keeps the knee from moving side to side. Its functions to resist valgus pressure, or the knee being forced too far 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 provides rotational stability and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- 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 thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and prevents the knee from being forced unnaturally outward
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Optimal structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are numerous knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Certain physical therapy exercises and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been proven to help patients mitigate pain and swelling and return to optimal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched farther than is naturally, or a tear, where the MCL 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 the fibers in your ligament are torn. These are not generally severe, and don’t result in much instability. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, most commonly to the superficial part of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when moved by hand. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- Grade 3 — This occurs when your MCL is entirely torn, both the superficial and deep parts. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to buckle. You will likely experience intense pain and several other symptoms. The injury may actually caused by or accompanied by other serious knee injuries such as ACL tears.
However significant your MCL injuries, the team of qualified Barretts, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your physician, develop an extensive and customized plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to safely.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. MCL injuries occur due to the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated more than the ligament can stand. They can also happen because of landing or awkward bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while your leg keeps moving.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They can also occur in people who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their work.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
If you suffer an MCL injury in Barretts, MO, you’ll probably notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or sensation
- The knee being unstable
- Inability to bear weight
- Tenderness along the inside of the joint
- Swelling, either where the MCL is located or the entire knee joint
Sometimes your knee may feel like your knee is loose when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, while other times the knee feels too stiff. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, stop any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Barretts, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Barretts, 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 if your knee feels structurally sound. They’ll also gently feel for swelling, and may compare your injured knee to the healthy one.
Most physical therapists or doctors with knowledge of movement health in Barretts, MO are qualified to determine if you have an MCL injury with the above procedures. A phsycian may also order the following imaging tests to check the severity of the injury and whether or not you have suffered other damage to the knee:
- An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which uses a magnet and radio waves to take detailed images of the inside of your knee
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine the grade of your injury
- An X-ray, which, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, may be ordered for a severe MCL injury to ensure there are no broken bones
Alternatively, you can schedule and appointment with the Axes location most convenient for you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we can offer you an evaluation, Missouri law mandates that physical therapy be prescribed by a physician.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Barretts, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving discomfort, 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, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some time spent resting may be sufficient to get mostly back to normal.
Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 tears to restore strength and optimal range of motion and get you back to the activities you love. You’ll also need time of limited activity to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Barretts, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from bending too far inward while your MCL is still healing. With physical therapy, you’ll still continue icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Though uncommon, the most severe cases — in which the MCL is completely torn, the injury is accompanied by an ACL tear, or you are not recovering after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment — may require surgery. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reattach the torn sections. You would be able to go home the day of the surgery. If you do require surgery in Barretts, MO, our physical therapists will be able to treat you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the operation, and you’ll safely restore, strength, flexibility, and range of motion after.
How Do Physical Therapists in Barretts, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will design safe and evidence-backed treatments, 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 surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, and range of motion to the joint in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- To begin, light motions performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the knee used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you later to regain strength
- Exercises with resistant bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which studies show can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which provides further stability while your body heals and helps control motion
- Trigger point dry needling to stimulate harder-to-reach tissue
- Blood flow restriction training to help you make greater strength gains while lifting lighter loads
- Athletic training and sports therapy for those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Barretts, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created in concert with your physician, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to doing what you love to do most.
Other injuries we help treat in Barretts, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Barretts, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re an athlete or someone who finds joy in an active lifestyle, but with our help, the ailment is only temporary. We know our clients trust us with their recovery, so the treatment method we plan for you will be safe and backed by evidence. As part of our program, we’ll educate you on your injury and the structures of the knee so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in Barretts, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.