MCL Injury | Oakland, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Oakland, MO. For many athletes and physically active people, feeling that sudden “pop” in their knee creates a lot of doubts: Did I injure my MCL? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Oakland, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to positive patient outcomes. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through customized, evidence-based treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be a critical aspect of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Oakland, 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.
What is the MCL?
MCL an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that connects bones to each other and keeps joints stable. 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 resist valgus stress, or the knee being forced too far inward. It is one of four ligaments that help keep the knee stable, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which goes through the middle of your knee and provides rotational stability and controls forward movement
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL in the middle of the knee and keeps the shinbone from sliding back too far
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and prevents the knee from being pushed too far 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 stability and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just complete basic tasks pain-free. Particular physical therapy exercises and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and analysis to help those who have suffered an MCL injury manage their symptoms and get back to optimal movement health.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury is either a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal limits, or a tear, where the MCL 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 MCL has been torn. These injuries are typically not especially painful or debilitating, and don’t result in much instability. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, most commonly to the more fibrous part of the ligament. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when moved by hand. 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 “give out.” 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 Oakland, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, create a comprehensive and tailored plan to get you back to the activities your love most in a safe and effective manner.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to a ligament, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. Most people often suffer and MCL injury because of a force to the outside of the knee. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated more than the ligament can stand. They can also happen because of landing or excessive 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 cutting and jumping such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They can also occur in people who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
If you suffer an MCL injury in Oakland, MO, you’ll likely notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or sensation
- The knee being unstable
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Inflammation, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes you may feel a “wobbly” sensation, or in other cases you’ll barely be able to move the knee. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, cease any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Oakland, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a physical examination. The examination will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Oakland, 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 Oakland, 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 radio waves to take detailed images of your soft tissue
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the ligament is torn
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, to insure your femur, kneecap, tibia, and fibula have not been broken
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 that physical therapy be prescribed by a physician.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Oakland, MO
The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: swelling reduction, easing discomfort, and using 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 sufficient 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 the activities you love. You’ll also need time of limited activity to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Oakland, 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.
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 your hamstring or an organ donor, to reconstruct the ligament. 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 to make your surgery and recovery as successful as possible.
How Do Physical Therapists in Oakland, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will implement safe, targeted, 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 knee in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- At the start, light movements carried about by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which studies show can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and encourages normal function
- 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 those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Oakland, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, backed by empirical evidence, and created alongside your physician, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to doing what you love to do most.
Other services we offer in Oakland, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Oakland, 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 with our help, you can get back to how you used to feel. We know you place a lot of trust in your physical therapists, 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 Oakland, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.