MCL Injury | Crescent, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Crescent, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, it’s easy to fear the worst when you hear that sudden “pop” in your knee: Did I injure my MCL? How bad is the injury? How long will it take to recover? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Crescent, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to positive patient experiences. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, evidence-backed treatments. Physical therapy has proven to be a fundamental aspect of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Crescent, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call the Axes location most convenient for you you or contact us online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue 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 pressure, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. It is one of four ligaments that help keep the knee stable, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center of your knee and provides rotational stability and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL in the middle of the knee and the femur from sliding off the tibia
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which affixes the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone the small bone behind the tibia) and provides stability to the outer knee
The knee is one of the largest joints we have. A healthy knee relies on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide stability and function properly. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can limit or completely restrict your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just get around the house pain-free. Specific physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through evidence to help patients reduce pain and return to normal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal limits, 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 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 injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, most commonly to the superficial part of the MCL. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and the knee will likely be loose when manipulated manually. A grade 2 injury will result in significantly more pain than a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This occurs when your MCL is entirely torn, both the fibrous and deep parts. Your knee will be significantly unstable. 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, our expert Crescent, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, implement a comprehensive and tailored plan to get you back to the activities your love most without incurring further injury.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to a ligament, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. When you suffer a forceful trauma to the outside of your knee, it can push the knee inside far enough that the MCL strains or tears. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or excessive bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while you’re moving.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in activities that require a lot of sudden movement such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They are also common in those who have to hunch over and lift heavy objects, either for athletic training or in the course of their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most MCL injuries are accompanied by immediate, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness along the inside of the joint
- Swelling, either on the inside of the knee or the entire knee joint
Sometimes you may feel like your knee is “shaky”, while other times the knee feels too stiff. If you experience any of the above symptoms, stop any strenuous activity immediately and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Crescent, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Crescent, 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 Crescent, 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 create detailed 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, 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
You can also come to the Axes location most convenient for you for a free, no-risk injury screening. While we will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri law stipulates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Crescent, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: inflammation reduction, easing discomfort, and using the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For grade 1 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.
Grade 2 or 3 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 rigorous until your knee is strong again. Your Axes physical therapist in Crescent, 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 anti-inflammatory medication.
Though uncommon, the most severe cases — in which the MCL is completely torn, the injury is accompanied by an ACL tear, or nonsurgical treatment just isn’t working — 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 Crescent, 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 ligament reconstruction, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Crescent, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The aim of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to create 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 ligaments and tendons, 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, passive motions performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the ligament used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you later to regain strength
- Exercises with resistant bands, weights, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests can 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 lessening stress on the joint
- Athletic training and sports therapy for those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Crescent, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created alongside your doctor, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Crescent, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Crescent, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, 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 you place a lot of trust in your physical therapists, 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 anatomy of the knee so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in Crescent, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.