MCL Injury | St. Clair, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in St. Clair, MO. For many athletes and physically active people, 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 St. Clair, MO, we are driven by positive patient experiences. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through personalized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an essential aspect of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in St. Clair, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, reach out to the Axes location most convenient for you you or contact us online.
What is the MCL?
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is like a strong, firmly attached rope that affixes bone to bone and helps hold structures with the musculoskeletal system together. 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 primary purpose is to resist valgus stress, or the knee being pushed too far inward. It combines with three other ligaments that work together to support normal function and stability:
- 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 controls backward movement
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and prevents the knee from being forced too far outward
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Healthy structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are numerous knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Specific physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been proven to help patients reduce pain and return to optimal mobility.
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 limits, 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 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 largely remains stable. Symptoms will likely be tenderness and mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, usually 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 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.
However significant your MCL injuries, the team of expert St. Clair, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, alongside your physician, create an exhaustive plan specially made for you and your injuries to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. Most people often suffer and MCL injury because of a force to the outside of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also happen because of landing or awkward bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while the rest of your body moves.
MCL injuries are common in 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
If you suffer an MCL injury in St. Clair, MO, you’ll likely notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Inability to bear weight
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Inflammation, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes your knee may feel like it’s wobbling when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, or in other cases the knee feels too rigid. If you suspect you may have suffered an MCL injury, cease any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in St. Clair, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your St. Clair, 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 check for stability.
Most physical therapists or doctors with knowledge of movement health in St. Clair, 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 magnetic field and 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 ligament is torn
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, may be ordered for a severe MCL injury to ensure there are no broken bones
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 Revised Statute §334.506 mandates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in St. Clair, MO
The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: inflammation reduction, easing discomfort, and implementing the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For grade 1 injuries, the R.I.C.E method, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be sufficient for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
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 most physical activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in St. Clair, MO can fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from becoming more instable while your MCL is still 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. The surgery is carried out by using a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reattach the torn sections. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If you do require surgery in St. Clair, MO, our physical therapists specialize in pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation get you the best possible results from your surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in St. Clair, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The aim of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to implement 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 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 help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with resistant bands, weights, 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 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 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 St. Clair, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created in concert with your doctor, 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 St. Clair, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in St. Clair, 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 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 St. Clair, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.