MCL Injury | Leadwood, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Leadwood, 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? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will this be the end of my athletic career? At Axes Physical Therapy in Leadwood, MO, we are driven by 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 essential component of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Leadwood, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For lasting and meaningful recovery, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.
How the MCL Works
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that connects 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 withstand valgus stress, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. It is one of four ligaments in the knee, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center of your knee and controls rotation and prevents the knee from bending inward
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL in the middle of the knee and controls backward movement
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and provides stability to the outer knee
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 stability and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that 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 techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been proven to help those who have suffered an MCL injury mitigate pain and swelling and return to normal movement health.
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 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. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee largely remains stable. You will likely experience some tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is more significant tearing, usually to the more fibrous part of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, 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. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to buckle. You will likely experience intense pain and 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, the team of professional Leadwood, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your doctor, implement a comprehensive and personalized plan to get you back to the activities your love most without incurring further injury.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. People often suffer and MCL injury because of 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 your leg keeps moving.
MCL injuries are common in athletes in contact sports and in athletic events that require a lot of sudden movement such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. 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 people feel pain immediately on the inside of the joint when they experience an MCL sprain or tear. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or feeling
- Feeling like the may buckle
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness along the inside of the joint
- Inflammation, either of the MCL area or the whole knee
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, do not participate in any more strenuous activity and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Leadwood, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Leadwood, 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 if your knee feels structurally sound. 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 Leadwood, MO will be able to determine if you have 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 magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to produce three-dimensional 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 can offer you an evaluation, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 stipulates a prescription for further physical therapy.
Treating an MCL Injury in Leadwood, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, reducing discomfort, and utilizing the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For mild injuries, the R.I.C.E method, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some time with limited activity may be enough for your body to heal itself.
Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 tears to restore strength and function 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 Leadwood, 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.
Though rare, the worst grade 1 tears — in which the MCL is completely torn, the injury is accompanied by an ACL tear, or nonsurgical treatment just isn’t working — may require surgery. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reattach the torn sections. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists will be able to help you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the ligament reconstruction, and you’ll safely restore, strength, flexibility, and range of motion after.
How Do Physical Therapists in Leadwood, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The goal 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. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, and range of motion to the joint in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- To begin, passive movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches 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 athletes who want to improve their performance
At Axes Physical Therapy in Leadwood, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, 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 Leadwood, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Leadwood, 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 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 Leadwood, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.