MCL Injury | Lake St. Louis, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Lake St. Louis, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, it’s easy to fear the worst when you feel sudden pain on the inside of your knee: Did I suffer an MCL injury? How bad is the injury? How long will it take to recover? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Lake St. Louis, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. While we’d like to be able to make your MCL injury go away, we can make your recovery safe and effective through tailored, evidence-based treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be an integral part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Lake St. Louis, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For treatment plans you know will be effective, call 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 provides stability. 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 main purpose is to withstand valgus pressure, or the knee being pushed 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 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 attaches the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
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 compete like you’re used to, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Certain physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been proven to help patients manage their symptoms and return 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 range of motion, or a tear, where the ligament may fray partially or entirely separate from the bone. MCL injuries are “graded” in three tiers:
- Grade 1 — A grade 1 sprain or tear means that the ligament has been stretched, and less than 10% of the MCL has been torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and don’t result in much instability. Symptoms will likely be tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, most commonly to the more fibrous part of the ligament. You will probably lose some stability in your knee, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This injury is a complete tear to both the superficial and deep parts. Your knee will be significantly unstable. 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, the team of qualified Lake St. Louis, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your doctor, implement an exhaustive and customized plan to get you back to the things you love safely.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. 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 happen because of landing or awkward bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while the rest of your body moves.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They are also common in those who have to hunch over 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 immediate, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Feeling like the may give out
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Inflammation, 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 the knee feels too stiff. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, stop any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Lake St. Louis, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a physical examination. In the examination, your Lake St. Louis, MO doctor or physical therapist will go over what led to the injury, will feel for swelling and how your knee is different from your healthy knee, and perform a valgus stress test.
Most physical therapists or physicians that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Lake St. Louis, 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 magnet and radio waves to take 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 does not show soft tissue, to insure your femur, patella, tibia, and fibula have not been broken
You can also visit 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 mandates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Lake St. Louis, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving 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, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some time spent off your feet may be enough for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
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 to refrain from strenuous until your knee is strong again. Your Axes physical therapist in Lake St. Louis, MO can 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.
Though uncommon, the most severe cases — 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. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. 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 Do Physical Therapists in Lake St. Louis, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The aim of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to design safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient as an individual. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the strength in the muscles that power the knee, flexibility of soft tissue, and range of motion to the joint so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- To begin, passive movements carried about by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- 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 help you make greater strength gains while lessening stress on the joint
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to improve their performance
At Axes Physical Therapy in Lake St. Louis, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created alongside your physician, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other conditions we help treat in Lake St. Louis, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Lake St. Louis, 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 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 Lake St. Louis, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.