St. Louis, MO

St. Louis, MO

Axes Physical Therapy will provide you with personalized and evidence-based physical therapy

MCL Injury | St. Louis, MO Physical Therapy

MCL Injury in St. Louis, 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 suffer an MCL injury? How bad is the injury? How long will it take to recover? Will I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Louis, MO, we are driven by getting our clients back to the activities they love most. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, we can make your recovery safe and effective through customized, evidence-based treatment plans. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be a critical component of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in St. Louis, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.

What is the MCL?

MCL an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a fibrous of connective tissue 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 helps keep your knee stable and moving normally. Its primary purpose is to resist valgus pressure, or the knee being forced unnaturally 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 provides rotational stability and controls forward movement
  • PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL inside the knee and keeps the shinbone from sliding back too far
  • LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and prevents the knee from being pushed unnaturally outward

The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Healthy structure and movement depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are a variety of knee injuries that can greatly affect your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Particular physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through evidence to help patients manage their symptoms and get back to normal mobility.

MCL Injury St. Louis, MO | Sports Rehab | Injury Prevention | Physical Therapy Near St. Louis

What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?

In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched 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 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 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, most commonly to the more fibrous part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
  • Grade 3 — This occurs when your MCL is entirely torn, both the superficial and deep parts. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to buckle. You will likely feel significant pain and several other symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.

Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our licensed St. Louis, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, create an exhaustive and personalized plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to without incurring further injury.

What Causes MCL Injuries?

40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, 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 occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or awkward bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while your leg keeps moving.

MCL injuries are common in athletes in contact sports and in activities that require a lot of cutting and jumping such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. They are also common in those 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 joint when they experience an MCL sprain or tear. Other symptoms may include:

  • Hearing or feeling a popping noise or feeling
  • Instability
  • Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness along the inside of the joint
  • Inflammation, either of the MCL area 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, 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 St. Louis, MO

MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The examination will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in St. Louis, MO asking how the injury occurred. They’ll then bend your knee and apply slight pressure to the outside of it, noting how much pain you are in and whether or not your knee is unstable. They’ll also gently feel for swelling, and may compare your injured knee to the healthy one.

Most physical therapists or physicians with knowledge of movement health in St. Louis, MO are qualified to determine if you have an MCL injury with the above procedures. Other tests to check severity or to confirm may include:

  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which uses a magnet and computer-generated radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of your knee
  • An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine the grade of your injury
  • An X-ray, which, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, may be ordered for a severe MCL injury to ensure there are no broken bones

You can also schedule and appointment with the Axes location nearest you for a complimentary, no-risk injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL sprain or tear, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 stipulates a prescription for further physical therapy.

Treating an MCL Injury in St. Louis, MO

The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: reducing swelling, easing pain, 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 all you need for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.

Professional physical therapy is needed for grade 2 and 3 injuries to restore strength and optimal range of motion and get you back to the activities you love. You’ll also need to refrain from rigorous until your knee is strong again. Your Axes physical therapist in St. Louis, MO can 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 most severe cases — 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 carried out by using a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reconstruct the MCL. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, 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. Louis, MO Treat My MCL Injury?

The objective of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to implement safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient’s specific injury and the lifestyle they want to get back to. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, and range of motion to the joint in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:

At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Louis, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, backed by empirical evidence, and created with the help of your doctor, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to doing what you love to do most.

Other injuries we help treat in St. Louis, MO include:

MCL Injury St. Louis, MO | Athletic Training | Sports Training | Physical Therapy Near St. Louis

Schedule an Appointment With an Axes Physical Therapist in St. Louis, 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 our clients trust us with their recovery, 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 St. Louis, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.

Services Offered

Services Offered
  • Physical Therapy
  • Pre/Post Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Acute Injury Management
  • Chronic Injury Management
  • Work Conditioning/Hardening
  • Functional Capacity Evaluations
  • Certified Hand Therapy
  • Sports Physical Therapy
  • Pediatric Orthopedic Physical Therapy
  • Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • Vestibular Therapy and Post-Concussion Rehabilitation
  • Trigger Point Dry Needling
  • Free Injury Screenings
  • Kinesio Taping®
  • Blood Flow Restriction Therapy

Our Team

Stephen Brunjes
OTR/L, CEAS
Zac Schniers
PT, DPT, CMPT
Sarah Barker
Front Office
Scott Gallant
PT, FAAOMPT, BDN
Stacey Collins
Clinic Director, PT, DPT, CMPT

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Injuries and pain shouldn’t keep you from moving and doing the things you love.