MCL Injury | Creve Coeur, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Creve Coeur, 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? 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 Creve Coeur, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are committed to getting our clients back to sprinting down the court. 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 aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Creve Coeur, MO are movement health experts. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or schedule an appointment online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a fibrous of connective tissue that attaches bone to bone and provides stability. 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 functions to resist valgus pressure, or the knee being forced unnaturally inward. It is one of four ligaments that help control the knee, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center of your knee and controls rotation 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 controls backward movement
- 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 helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. A healthy knee relies on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide stability and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Particular physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been proven to help patients reduce pain and return to normal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury is either 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. MCL injuries are “graded” in three levels:
- 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 MCL are torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee largely remains stable. You will likely experience some tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, generally to the middle layer of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in your knee, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. 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 retain little to no stability. You will likely experience significant pain and several other symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our expert Creve Coeur, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, develop a comprehensive plan uniquely made for you and your injuries to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
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 occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or awkward bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while your leg keeps 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 work.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
If you suffer an MCL injury in Creve Coeur, MO, you’ll likely notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- The knee being unstable
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Inflammation, either of the MCL area or the entire knee joint
Sometimes you may feel a “wobbly” sensation, while other times the knee feels too stiff. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, cease any strenuous activity immediately and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Creve Coeur, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Creve Coeur, 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 Creve Coeur, MO are qualified to diagnose an MCL injury with a physical examination. 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 produce detailed images of the knee joint
- 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
Alternatively, you can schedule and appointment with the Axes location nearest you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL injury, Missouri law mandates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Creve Coeur, MO
The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: reducing swelling, reducing 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, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some time spent resting may be all you need for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
Professional physical therapy is needed for more severe tears to restore strength and optimal range of motion and get you 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 Creve Coeur, MO can fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from bending too far inward while your MCL is still healing. Even with physical therapy, you’ll likely still continue the R.I.C.E. method and anti-inflammatory medication.
Though rare, the worst grade 1 tears — 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 reconstruct the MCL. You would be able to go home the day of the surgery. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists will be able to help you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the surgery, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Creve Coeur, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The aim 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 regain a specific level or function. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, and range of motion to the knee in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- At the start, passive motions carried about by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable 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 athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Creve Coeur, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created in concert with 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 Creve Coeur, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Creve Coeur, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re used to being physically active, but with our help, the ailment is only temporary. 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. 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 Creve Coeur, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.