MCL Injury | Ranken, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Ranken, 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? How bad is the injury? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Ranken, MO, we are driven by getting our patients back to sprinting down the court. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, we can make your recovery safe and effective through personalized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be a fundamental part of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Ranken, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call the Axes location most convenient for you you or schedule an appointment online.
What is the MCL?
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that attaches 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 keeps the knee from moving side to side. Its primary purpose is to guard against valgus pressure, 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 acts as a secondary front and back stabilizer
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from 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 in the human body. Correct structure and movement 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 pursue the activities you love most, or just complete basic tasks pain-free. Specific physical therapy exercises and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through research and studies to help patients reduce pain and get back to optimal movement health.
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 is either partially or completely torn or separated from the bone. There are three grades to MCL injuries:
- 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 ligament are 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 is more significant tearing, usually to the superficial part of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- Grade 3 — This injury is a complete tear to 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 Ranken, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your doctor, create a comprehensive and customized plan 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 most of the time that ligament is the MCL. 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 excessive bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while the rest of your body moves.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They are also common in those who lift weights or lift heavy objects at their work.
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:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- The knee being unstable
- Inability to bear weight
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Swelling, either where the MCL is located or the entire knee joint
Sometimes you may feel like your knee is “shaky”, while other times you’ll barely be able to move the knee. If you experience any of the above symptoms, do not participate in any more strenuous activity and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Ranken, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a physical examination. In the examination, your Ranken, 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 perform a valgus stress test.
Most physical therapists or physicians that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Ranken, 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 create 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, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, to insure your femur, patella, 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 offer you an evaluation, Missouri law stipulates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How MCL Injuries are Treated in Ranken, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: inflammation 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, over-the-counter pain relievers, and some time with limited activity may be enough for your body to heal itself.
Grade 2 or 3 tears 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 resting to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Ranken, MO can fit you for a knee brace so that you don’t suffer further injury. 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 knee. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reattach the torn sections. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If you do require surgery in Ranken, MO, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the ligament reconstruction, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Do Physical Therapists in Ranken, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The objective 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 get back to optimal movement health. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of ligaments and tendons, and range of motion to the knee so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- To begin, light movements performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the MCL used to normal motion again
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- 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 lifting lighter weights
- Athletic training and sports therapy for those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Ranken, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, backed by empirical evidence, and created in concert with your doctor, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Ranken, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Ranken, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re an athlete, but there’s no reason it has to put you on the sideline forever. 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 Ranken, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.