MCL Injury | Clearwater, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Clearwater, 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? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Clearwater, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. 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 proven to be an integral aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Clearwater, MO are movement health experts. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location most convenient for you you or request an appointment online.
The Anatomy of 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 provides stability. The MCL runs from the inside of your upper shin bone to the inside of your bottoms thigh bone and helps keep your knee stable and moving normally. Its functions to resist valgus stress, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. It combines with three other ligaments that work together to support normal function and stability:
- 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 in the middle of the knee and prevents excessive posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Optimal structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can greatly affect your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Certain physical therapy exercises and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and studies to help those who have suffered an MCL injury reduce pain and return to optimal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched 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. These are not generally severe, and your knee will still be stable. You will likely experience some tenderness and mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is more significant tearing, usually to the middle layer of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. A grade 2 injury will result in significantly more pain than a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to buckle. 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, the team of licensed Clearwater, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your doctor, implement an extensive and customized plan to get you back to the activities your love most safely.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to a ligament, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. People often suffer and MCL injury because of the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also happen because of landing or unnatural bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while you’re moving.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in sports that require a lot of sudden movement such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They are also common in those 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 Clearwater, MO, you’ll probably notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- The knee being unstable
- Inability to bear weight
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Inflammation, either of the MCL area or the entire knee joint
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 rigid. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, do not participate in any more strenuous activity and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Clearwater, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. The examination will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Clearwater, 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 physicians that specialize in mobility of the human body in Clearwater, MO are qualified to diagnose 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 create three-dimensional images of the inside of your knee
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can be helpful in checking the severity of your injury
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, may be ordered for a severe MCL injury to ensure there are no broken bones
You can also schedule and appointment with the Axes location most convenient for you for a free, no-obligation injury screening. While we will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 stipulates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Clearwater, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: swelling reduction, easing pain, and using the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For mild injuries, the R.I.C.E method, pain and swelling relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be sufficient for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
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 Clearwater, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace to give your knee stability while it’s healing. Even with physical therapy, you’ll likely still continue the R.I.C.E. method and over-the-counter meds.
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 knee. The surgery is carried out by using a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or from another person, to reconstruct the ligament. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists are experts at pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation to make your surgery and recovery as successful as possible.
How Can Physical Therapy in Clearwater, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The goal of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to implement safe and evidence-backed treatments, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body regain a specific level or function. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build 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 movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with resistant bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which provides further stability while your body heals and encourages normal function
- Trigger point dry needling to further help the body’s natural healing process
- Blood flow restriction training to improve strength while lifting lighter weights
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Clearwater, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created with the help of your doctor, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to doing what you love to do most.
Other services we offer in Clearwater, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Schedule an Appointment With an Axes Physical Therapist in Clearwater, 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 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 Clearwater, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.