MCL Injury | Paulina Hills, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Paulina Hills, 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? 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 Paulina Hills, 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 make your recovery safe and effective through customized, evidence-based treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be a critical component of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Paulina Hills, 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 contact us online.
How the MCL Works
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that attaches 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 helps keep your knee stable and moving normally. Its functions to withstand valgus stress, or the knee being pushed too far inward. It combines with three other ligaments to keep the knee stable:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center of your knee and controls rotation and controls forward movement
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL in the middle of the knee and the femur from sliding off the tibia
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone the small bone behind the tibia) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Healthy structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it 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 physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and studies to help patients manage their symptoms and return to normal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury is either a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched beyond its normal limits, 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 will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience soreness.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, generally to the superficial part of the MCL. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. A grade 2 injury will result in significantly more pain than a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to “give out.” You will likely experience intense pain and 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 licensed Paulina Hills, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, create an extensive plan uniquely made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to without incurring further injury.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. MCL injuries occur due to the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating more than the ligament can support. They can also happen because of landing or excessive bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while the rest of your body moves.
MCL injuries usually occur 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 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:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or sensation
- 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 your knee may feel like it’s wobbling when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, while other times the knee feels too stiff. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, cease any strenuous activity immediately and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Paulina Hills, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Paulina Hills, 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 check for stability.
Most physical therapists or physicians with knowledge of movement health in Paulina Hills, MO will be able to diagnose 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 take three-dimensional 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, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, to insure your femur, kneecap, tibia, and fibula have not fractured
Axes Physical Therapy also offers injury screening injury screenings at no cost or obligation to you. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL injury, Missouri law mandates a prescription for further physical therapy.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Paulina Hills, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: inflammation reduction, reducing pain, 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 sufficient for your body to heal itself.
Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 injuries to restore strength and function 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 Paulina Hills, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from bending too far inward while your MCL is still healing. Even with physical therapy, you’ll likely still continue the R.I.C.E. method and over-the-counter meds.
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 structures of the knee. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from one of your other ligaments or from another person, to reconstruct the ligament. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If you do require surgery in Paulina Hills, MO, 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 Paulina Hills, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will create safe and evidence-backed exercises, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body get back to optimal movement health. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, 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:
- To begin, light movements performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the knee used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with resistant bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which studies show can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which provides further stability while your body heals and encourages normal motion
- Trigger point dry needling to further help the body’s natural healing process
- Blood flow restriction training to improve strength while lessening stress on the joint
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Paulina Hills, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created with the help of your doctor, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other injuries we help treat in Paulina Hills, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Paulina Hills, 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 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. As part of our program, we’ll educate you on your injury and how the knee works so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in Paulina Hills, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.