MCL Injury | Howell, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Howell, MO. For many athletes and physically active people, 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 Howell, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to positive patient experiences. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, 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 part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Howell, 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 an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that connects bone to bone 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 functioning normally. Its functions to resist valgus stress, 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 provides rotational stability and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL inside the knee and acts as a secondary front and back stabilizer
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which connects the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and provides stability to the outer knee
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. 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 have tremendous consequences for your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Specific physical therapy exercises and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been proven to help patients manage their symptoms and return to optimal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
For all intents and purposes, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched beyond its normal range of motion, 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 MCL has been torn. These injuries are typically not especially painful or debilitating, and your knee largely remains stable. Symptoms will likely be tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is more significant tearing, usually to the superficial part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in your knee, and your joint may 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. You will retain little to no stability. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel a wide array of symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our professional Howell, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, alongside your doctor, develop an exhaustive and personalized plan to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. Most people often suffer and MCL injury because of a blow to the outer edge of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also occur because of landing or excessive 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 can also occur in people who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their work.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most people feel pain immediately on the inside of the knee when they experience an MCL sprain or tear. 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
- Inflammation, either where the MCL is located or the entire knee joint
Sometimes your knee may feel like your knee is loose 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 seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Howell, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Howell, MO doctor or physical therapist will go over how the injury occurred, will feel for swelling and how your knee is different from your healthy knee, and perform a valgus stress test.
Most physical therapists or doctors that specialize in mobility of the human body in Howell, MO are qualified to diagnose an MCL injury with the above procedures. 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 create detailed images of the inside of your knee
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the MCL is torn
- An X-ray, which, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, to insure your femur, patella, tibia, and fibula have not fractured
You can also visit the Axes location nearest you for a complimentary, no-risk injury screening. While we can offer you an evaluation, Missouri law stipulates a prescription for further physical therapy.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Howell, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving pain, 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, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be enough to get mostly back to normal.
Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 tears to restore strength and optimal range of motion and get you back to racing down or around the court or field. You’ll also need time of limited activity to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Howell, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace so that you don’t suffer further injury. 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 joint. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or from another person, to reconstruct the ligament. You would be able to go home the day of the surgery. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation to make your surgery and recovery as successful as possible.
How Can Physical Therapy in Howell, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will create safe, targeted, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient’s specific injury and the lifestyle they want to get back to. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build 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:
- To begin, passive movements carried about by your physical therapist to slowly get the ligament used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests can 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 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 Howell, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created with the help of your doctor, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to doing what you love to do most.
Other conditions we help treat in Howell, 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 Howell, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, especially if you’re an athlete, 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. 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 Howell, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.