MCL Injury | Kirkwood, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Kirkwood, 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 suffer an MCL injury? How bad is the injury? How long will I be sidelines for? Will this be the end of my athletic career? At Axes Physical Therapy in Kirkwood, MO, we are driven by getting our patients back to the activities they love most. While we’d like to be able to make your MCL injury go away, 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 essential component of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Kirkwood, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or contact us online.
What is the MCL?
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that affixes bones to each other and helps hold structures with the musculoskeletal system together. The MCL connects your upper shin bone to the inner surface of the bottom thigh bone, running along your inner knee, and maintains stability in the inner knee. Its functions to guard against valgus pressure, or the knee being forced too far 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 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 affixes the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and prevents the knee from being pushed unnaturally outward
The knee is one of the most complex joints we have. It depends on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide support and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that 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 proven to help patients mitigate pain and swelling and get back to normal mobility.
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 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 the fibers in your ligament are torn. These injuries are typically not especially painful or debilitating, and your knee will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience soreness.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, usually to the middle layer of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, 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 retain little to no stability. 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 qualified Kirkwood, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, implement an exhaustive and tailored plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to in a safe and effective manner.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, 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 occur if the knee is rotated more than the ligament can support. They can also take place when landing or awkward 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 lift weights or lift heavy objects at 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 feeling
- The knee being unstable
- 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 your knee may feel like it’s wobbling when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, or in other cases the knee feels too rigid. If you experience any of the above symptoms, do not participate in any more strenuous activity and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Kirkwood, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. In the examination, your Kirkwood, 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 with knowledge of movement health in Kirkwood, MO are qualified 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 computer-generated radio waves to take three-dimensional images of the knee joint
- 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
You can also schedule and appointment with the Axes location nearest you for a free, no-obligation injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL sprain or tear, Missouri law requires a prescription for further physical therapy.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Kirkwood, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving pain, and implementing 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 sufficient for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
More significant 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 Kirkwood, 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. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reconstruct the ligament. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If you do require surgery in Kirkwood, MO, our physical therapists will be able to treat you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation to make your surgery and recovery as successful as possible.
How Do Physical Therapists in Kirkwood, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will create safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient as an individual. 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
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which provides further stability while your body heals and encourages normal 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 athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Kirkwood, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, backed by empirical evidence, 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 injuries we help treat in Kirkwood, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Kirkwood, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re an athlete or someone who finds joy in an active lifestyle, 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. 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 Kirkwood, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.