MCL Injury | Gray Summit, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Gray Summit, MO. For many people who maintain an active lifestyle, 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 I be sidelines for? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Gray Summit, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to positive patient experiences. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through personalized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an integral aspect of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Gray Summit, MO are all licensed and average more than 15 years of individual experience. For lasting and meaningful recovery, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that attaches bones to each other 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 guard against valgus pressure, or the knee being forced too far inward. It combines with three other ligaments to keep the knee stable:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which goes through the middle of your knee and controls rotation and controls forward movement
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL in the middle of the knee and acts as a secondary front and back stabilizer
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and prevents the knee from being pushed too far outward
The knee is one of the largest joints we have. It depends on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide support 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 live a pain-free day-to-day life. Particular physical therapy exercises and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and studies to help patients mitigate pain and swelling and return to normal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
For all intents and purposes, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, which stretches the ligament farther than is naturally, 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 the fibers in your MCL are torn. These injuries are typically not especially painful or debilitating, and don’t result in much instability. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, usually to the more fibrous part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when moved by hand. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. Your knee will be significantly unstable. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel a wide array of symptoms. The injury may actually caused by or accompanied by other serious knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our licensed Gray Summit, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, implement an exhaustive and tailored plan to get you back to the things you love without incurring further injury.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. Most MCL injuries occur due to a blow to the outer edge of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating more than the ligament can stand. 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 can also occur in people who have to squat 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 sudden, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or sensation
- The knee being unstable
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Swelling, either on the inside of the knee 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, cease any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Gray Summit, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Gray Summit, 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 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 doctors that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Gray Summit, MO will be able to diagnose an MCL injury with a physical examination. 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 computer-generated radio waves to create three-dimensional images of the knee joint
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the ligament is torn
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, to insure your femur, kneecap, tibia, and fibula have not fractured
Axes Physical Therapy also offers injury screening injury screenings at no cost or obligation to you. While we can offer you an evaluation, Missouri law mandates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Gray Summit, MO
The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: reducing swelling, 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 some time with limited activity may be all you need for your body to heal itself.
Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 injuries to restore strength and function and get you back to racing down or around the court or field. You’ll also need to refrain from rigorous until your knee is strong again. Your Axes physical therapist in Gray Summit, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace to give your knee stability while it’s healing. 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 reconstruct the ligament. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If you do require surgery in Gray Summit, MO, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation get you the best possible results from your surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Gray Summit, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will implement safe and evidence-backed exercises, 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 so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- At the start, passive motions performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to regain strength
- Exercises with resistant bands, weights, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- 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 stimulate harder-to-reach tissue
- Blood flow restriction training to help you make greater strength gains 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 Gray Summit, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, backed by empirical evidence, and created alongside your physician, 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 Gray Summit, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Gray Summit, 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 our clients trust us with their recovery, 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 Gray Summit, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.