MCL Injury | St. Genevieve, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in St. Genevieve, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, it’s easy to fear the worst when you feel sudden pain on the inside of your knee: Did I injure my MCL? Is it significant? How long will it take to recover? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Genevieve, MO, all of our physical and occupational therapists are dedicated to getting our patients back to the activities they love most. 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 fundamental component of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in St. Genevieve, 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.
What is the MCL?
MCL an acronym 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 body 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 chief purpose is to guard against valgus stress, or the knee being forced unnaturally towards the other one. 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 controls rotation and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL in the middle of the knee and acts as a secondary front and back stabilizer
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which affixes the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and prevents the knee from being forced unnaturally outward
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Correct structure and movement depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can greatly affect your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Certain physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and studies to help patients reduce pain and get back to optimal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
Generally speaking, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal limits, or a tear, where the ligament 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. 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 ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and the knee will likely be loose when manipulated manually. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. Your knee will be significantly unstable. 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.
However significant your MCL injuries, the team of professional St. Genevieve, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your physician, develop a comprehensive and personalized plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to safely.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to a ligament, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. Most MCL injuries occur due to a blow to the outside of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or awkward bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while the rest of your body moves.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They can also occur in people who have to hunch over and lift heavy objects, either for athletic training or in the course of their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most people feel pain immediately on the inside of the knee when they experience an MCL sprain or tear. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Inflammation, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes you may feel like your knee is “shaky”, or in other cases you’ll barely be able to move the knee. If you experience any of the above symptoms, cease any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in St. Genevieve, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your St. Genevieve, 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 gently see if your knee is unstanble while bending inward, and your pain level.
Most physical therapists or physicians that specialize in mobility of the human body in St. Genevieve, 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 magnet and radio waves to create detailed images of your soft tissue
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine the grade of your injury
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, 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 offer you an evaluation, Missouri law stipulates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
Treating an MCL Injury in St. Genevieve, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: inflammation reduction, managing discomfort, and using the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For grade 1 injuries, the R.I.C.E method, pain and swelling relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be enough 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 time of limited activity to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in St. Genevieve, 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.
Though rare, the worst grade 1 tears — in which the MCL is completely torn, the injury is accompanied by an ACL tear, or nonsurgical treatment just isn’t working — may require surgery. The surgery is performed by using a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reattach the torn sections. You would be able to go home the day of the surgery. 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 Do Physical Therapists in St. Genevieve, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will create safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient’s specific injury and the lifestyle they want to get back to. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build 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. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- To begin, passive movements carried about by your physical therapist to slowly get the ligament used to normal motion again
- 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 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 athletes who want to reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Genevieve, 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 doing what you love to do most.
Other services we offer in St. Genevieve, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in St. Genevieve, 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. As part of our program, we’ll educate you on your injury and the anatomy of the knee so you can stay as healthy and active as possible. For meaningful and lasting recovery from your MCL injury in St. Genevieve, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.