MCL Injury | Berkeley, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Berkeley, 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 suffer an MCL injury? How bad is the injury? How long will I be sidelines for? Will this be the end of my athletic career? At Axes Physical Therapy in Berkeley, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are committed to positive patient outcomes. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through customized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be an integral aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Berkeley, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For treatment plans you know will be effective, call the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.
How the MCL Works
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope 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 maintains stability in the inner knee. Its functions to resist valgus pressure, or the knee being forced unnaturally inward. It combines with three other ligaments that work together to support normal function and stability:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center 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 in the lower leg) and provides stability to the outer knee
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Healthy structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can limit or completely restrict your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just get around the house pain-free. Certain physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through research and analysis to help those who have suffered an MCL injury reduce pain and get back to optimal movement health.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury is either a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal range of motion, or a tear, where the ligament is either partially or completely torn or separated from the bone. There are three grades to MCL injuries:
- Grade 1 — A grade 1 MCL injury refers to a sprain, or a tear where less than 10% of the MCL has been torn. These are not generally severe, and don’t result in much instability. Symptoms will likely be tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, most commonly to the superficial part of the ligament. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This occurs when your MCL is entirely torn, both the superficial and deep parts. Your knee will be significantly unstable. You will likely experience significant pain and a wide array of symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our expert Berkeley, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your doctor, create an exhaustive plan specially made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to without incurring further injury.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. Most people often suffer and MCL injury because of a force to the outside of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or unnatural bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while you’re moving.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They are also common in those who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most MCL injuries are accompanied by sudden, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or feeling
- Feeling like the may give out
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Swelling, either of the MCL area or the entire knee joint
Sometimes you may feel like your knee is “shaky”, or in other cases you’ll barely be able to move the knee. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, do not participate in any more strenuous activity and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Berkeley, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The examination will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Berkeley, MO asking how the injury occurred. They’ll then bend your knee and apply slight pressure to the outside of it, noting your pain level 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 physicians that specialize in mobility of the human body in Berkeley, MO will be able 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 magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to take three-dimensional images of the knee joint
- 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, to insure your femur, kneecap, tibia, and fibula have not fractured
You can also come to the Axes location nearest you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL sprain or tear, Missouri law requires that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Berkeley, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, reducing 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 sufficient to get mostly back to normal.
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 strenuous activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in Berkeley, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace so that you don’t suffer further injury. 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 one of your other ligaments or an organ donor, to reconstruct the ligament. You would be able to go home the day of the surgery. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation get you the best possible results from your surgery.
How Do Physical Therapists in Berkeley, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The aim of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to create safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient as an individual. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the strength in the muscles that power the joint, flexibility of ligaments and tendons, and range of motion to the knee so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- To begin, passive movements performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the MCL used to normal motion again
- 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 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 further help the body’s natural healing process
- Blood flow restriction training to help you make greater strength gains while lifting lighter loads
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Berkeley, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created with the help of your physician, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Berkeley, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Berkeley, 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 with our help, you can get back to how you used to feel. We know you place a lot of trust in your physical therapists, so we repay that trust with safe and effective treatments that are 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 Berkeley, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.