MCL Injury | Des Peres, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Des Peres, 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 suffer an MCL injury? How bad is the injury? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Des Peres, MO, we are driven by getting our clients back to tearing up the filed. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, evidence-backed treatments. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an essential part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Des Peres, MO are movement health experts. For treatment plans you know will be effective, call the Axes location nearest you or contact us online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough, flexible of connective tissue that connects bones to each other and keeps joints stable. 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 withstand 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 goes through the middle of your knee and controls rotation and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL inside the knee and the femur from sliding off the tibia
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone the small bone behind the tibia) and prevents the knee from being forced too far outward
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Optimal structure and movement 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 ability to do what you love most, or just get around the house pain-free. Specific physical therapy exercises and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through evidence to help patients mitigate pain and swelling and get back to optimal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, which stretches the ligament beyond its normal limits, or a tear, where the MCL 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 the fibers in your MCL are torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee largely remains stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, most commonly to the superficial part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when moved by hand. 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 “give out.” Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel 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 licensed Des Peres, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, implement a comprehensive plan uniquely made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to 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. MCL injuries occur due to the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating more than the ligament can support. They can also take place when landing or excessive bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while your leg keeps moving.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in sports that require a lot of cutting and jumping such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They can also occur in people who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most MCL injuries are accompanied by immediate, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or sensation
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Swelling, either of the MCL area or the entire knee joint
Sometimes you may feel a “wobbly” sensation, while other times the knee feels too rigid. If you experience any of the above symptoms, cease any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Des Peres, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Des Peres, 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 whether or not your knee is unstable. They’ll also gently feel for swelling, and may compare your injured knee to the healthy one.
Most physical therapists or physicians with knowledge of movement health in Des Peres, MO will be able to determine if you have 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 radio waves to produce detailed images of your soft tissue
- 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
Axes Physical Therapy also offers injury screening injury screenings at no cost or obligation to you. While we will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 stipulates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
Treating an MCL Injury in Des Peres, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, managing discomfort, and utilizing 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 all you need for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
More significant tears 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 time resting to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Des Peres, MO can 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.
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 joint. The surgery is carried out by using a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or an organ donor, to reattach the torn sections. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. 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 Can Physical Therapy in Des Peres, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The objective 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 strength in the muscles that power the joint, 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:
- To begin, light 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 elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which studies show 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 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 Des Peres, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created alongside your doctor, 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 Des Peres, 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 Des Peres, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, 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. 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 Des Peres, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.