MCL Injury | St. Peters, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in St. Peters, 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 I be sidelines for? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Peters, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, evidence-backed treatments. Physical therapy has proven to be a critical part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in St. Peters, MO are movement health experts. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or request an appointment online.
What is the MCL?
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that affixes bone to bone and keeps joints stable. 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 functioning normally. Its primary purpose is to resist valgus stress, or the knee being forced too far towards the other one. It is one of four ligaments in the knee, along with the:
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), which runs down the center 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 prevents excessive posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches the femur to the fibula (the smaller bone in the lower leg) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. Optimal structure and movement depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are a variety of knee injuries that can limit or completely restrict your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Specific physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been demonstrated through research and analysis to help patients reduce pain and get back to normal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
For all intents and purposes, an MCL injury is either a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal range of motion, or a tear, where the MCL 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. 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 soreness.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, usually to the middle layer of the ligament. You will probably lose some stability in your knee, and the knee will likely be loose when moved by hand. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- 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 experience significant pain and several other symptoms. The injury may actually caused by or accompanied by other serious knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, the team of qualified St. Peters, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your physician, develop a comprehensive plan specially made for you and your injuries to get you back to the activities your love most in a safe and effective manner.
MCL Injuries: Causes and Symptoms
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, 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 more than the ligament can support. They can also take place when landing or unnatural bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while you’re 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:
- 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
- Swelling, either of the MCL area or the entire knee joint
Sometimes your knee may feel like it’s wobbling when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, while other times you’ll barely be able to move the knee. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, 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. Peters, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in St. Peters, 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 that specialize in mobility of the human body in St. Peters, MO are qualified to diagnose 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 radio waves to produce three-dimensional images of your soft tissue
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can be helpful in checking the severity of your injury
- 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 will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 requires a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in St. Peters, MO
The initial treatment of an MCL injury consists of basic first aid: reducing swelling, reducing discomfort, and implementing 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 all you need for your body to heal itself.
Professional physical therapy is needed for more severe 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 most physical activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in St. Peters, MO can fit you for a knee brace so that you don’t suffer further injury. 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. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reattach the torn sections. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. 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. Peters, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
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 regain a specific level or function. These treatments and exercises will, over time, build strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of ligaments and tendons, and range of motion to the joint so you can get back to what you love most and prevent further injury. Depending on you and your injuries, your treatment plan may include:
- To begin, light movements carried about by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and encourages normal 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 athletes who want to improve their performance
At Axes Physical Therapy in St. Peters, 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. Peters, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Schedule an Appointment With an Axes Physical Therapist in St. Peters, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re an athlete or someone who finds joy in an active lifestyle, but with our help, the ailment is only temporary. 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. Peters, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.