MCL Injury | Parkway, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Parkway, MO. For many people who maintain an active lifestyle, it’s easy to fear the worst when you hear that sudden “pop” in your knee: Did I injure my MCL? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Parkway, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to getting our patients back to tearing up the filed. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, effective treatments. Physical therapy has proven to be a critical component of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Parkway, 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 most convenient for you you or contact us online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that attaches bone to bone and provides stability. The MCL runs from the inside of your upper shin bone to the inside of your bottoms thigh bone and keeps the knee from moving side to side. Its main purpose is to resist valgus stress, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. 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 knee from bending inward
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL in the middle of the knee and prevents excessive posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which connects the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and provides stability to the outer knee
The knee is one of the largest joints in the human body. Correct structure and movement depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are countless knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Particular physical therapy exercises and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through research and studies to help those who have suffered an MCL injury mitigate pain and swelling and return to normal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
For all intents and purposes, an MCL injury is either a sprain, which stretches the ligament beyond its normal range of motion, or a tear, where the MCL may fray partially or entirely separate from the bone. MCL injuries are “graded” in three levels:
- Grade 1 — A grade 1 sprain or tear means that the ligament has been stretched, and less than 10% of the the fibers in your MCL are torn. These injuries are typically not especially painful or debilitating, and don’t result in much instability. You will likely experience some tenderness and mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, generally to the superficial part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when manipulated manually. A grade 2 injury will result in significantly more pain than a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This injury is a complete tear to both the fibrous and deep parts. Your knee will be significantly unstable. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel several other symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, the team of expert Parkway, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your doctor, create a comprehensive and customized plan to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. When you suffer a forceful trauma to the outside of your knee, it can push the knee inside far enough that the MCL strains or tears. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or unnatural bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while the rest of your body moves.
MCL injuries are common in athletes in contact sports and in activities that require a lot of sudden movement such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They can also occur in people who have to squat 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 sudden, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Swelling, either on the inside of the knee or the entire knee joint
Sometimes your knee may feel like your knee is loose when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, while other times 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 Parkway, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a physical examination. In the examination, your Parkway, 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 with knowledge of movement health in Parkway, 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 be helpful in checking the severity of your injury
- An X-ray, which, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, to insure your femur, patella, tibia, and fibula have not been broken
You can also visit the Axes location nearest you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 mandates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
Treating an MCL Injury in Parkway, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: swelling reduction, managing 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, pain and swelling relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be sufficient for your body to heal itself.
Grade 2 or 3 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 strenuous activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in Parkway, MO will be able to 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 rare, the worst grade 1 tears — 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. The surgery is performed by using a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or an organ donor, to reconstruct the ligament. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists are experts at pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation get you the best possible results from your surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Parkway, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will create safe and evidence-backed treatments, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body get back to optimal movement health. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the strength in the muscles that power the joint, flexibility of ligaments and tendons, and range of motion to the knee in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- At the start, light movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- 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 function
- Trigger point dry needling to stimulate harder-to-reach tissue
- Blood flow restriction training to improve strength while lifting lighter weights
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Parkway, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created with the help of your physician, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to the activities you love.
Other injuries we help treat in Parkway, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Parkway, 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 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 Parkway, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.