MCL Injury | Marlborough, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Marlborough, MO. For many athletes and physically active people, feeling that sudden “pop” in their knee creates a lot of doubts: Did I suffer an MCL injury? Is it significant? How long will it take to recover? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Marlborough, MO, we are driven by getting our patients back to the physical lifestyles they’ve grown to love. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, we can make your recovery safe and effective through tailored, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be a critical component of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Marlborough, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.
How the MCL Works
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that connects 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 chief purpose is to withstand valgus pressure, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. It combines with three other ligaments to keep the knee stable:
- 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 controls backward movement
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the femur 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 function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are numerous knee injuries that can limit or completely restrict your mobility and ability to do what 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 demonstrated through research and analysis to help those who have suffered an MCL injury manage their symptoms and get back to normal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, 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 your knee will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, generally to the middle layer of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This occurs when your MCL is entirely torn, both the fibrous and deep parts. 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 Marlborough, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your physician, create a comprehensive and personalized plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to without incurring further injury.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. Most MCL injuries occur due to a blow to the outside of the knee. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or unnatural bending, such as if your foot stays in one place 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 MCL injuries are accompanied by immediate, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or feeling
- The knee being unstable
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Inflammation, either of the MCL area or the whole knee
Sometimes you may feel like your knee is “shaky”, while other times 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.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Marlborough, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. In the examination, your Marlborough, 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 gently see if your knee is unstanble while bending inward, and your pain level.
Most physical therapists or doctors that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Marlborough, MO are qualified 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 magnet and computer-generated radio waves to produce detailed images of your soft tissue
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine the grade of your injury
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, may be ordered for a severe MCL injury to ensure there are no broken bones
Alternatively, you can schedule and appointment with the Axes location most convenient for you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL sprain or tear, Missouri law requires that physical therapy be prescribed by a physician.
Treating an MCL Injury in Marlborough, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: swelling reduction, easing 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 all you need 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 time of limited activity to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Marlborough, 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 knee. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or an organ donor, to reconstruct the MCL. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If you do require surgery in Marlborough, MO, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the surgery, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Marlborough, 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 regain a specific level or function. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves 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. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- 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 resistant 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 further help the body’s natural healing process
- 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 Marlborough, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created in concert with your physician, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Marlborough, 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 Marlborough, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, especially if you’re used to being physically active, but with our help, the ailment is only temporary. 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 structures of the knee so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in Marlborough, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.