MCL Injury | Sunset Hills, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Sunset Hills, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, 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 I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Sunset Hills, MO, we are driven by getting our patients back to sprinting down the court. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, effective treatments. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an essential component of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Sunset Hills, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location most convenient for you you or schedule an appointment online.
The Anatomy of 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 maintains stability in the inner knee. Its main purpose is to withstand 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 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 crosses 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 between the knee and ankle) and prevents the knee from being forced too far outward
The knee is one of the biggest joints in the human body. A healthy knee relies on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide stability and function properly. There are countless knee injuries that can greatly affect your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just complete basic tasks pain-free. Particular physical therapy techniques and other treatment modalities, prescribed by a doctor, have been demonstrated through evidence to help patients reduce pain and get back to normal movement health.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL extends beyond its normal limits, or a tear, where the ligament is either partially or completely torn or separated from the bone. MCL injuries are “graded” in three tiers:
- Grade 1 — A grade 1 MCL injury refers to a sprain, or a tear where less than 10% of the the fibers in your ligament are torn. These are not generally severe, and your knee will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, generally to the middle layer of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in your knee, and the knee will likely 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 retain little to no stability. You will likely feel intense pain and several other symptoms. The injury may actually caused by or accompanied by other serious knee injuries such as ACL tears.
However significant your MCL injuries, the team of licensed Sunset Hills, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your physician, create a comprehensive plan specially made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to without incurring further injury.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and the MCL is the most commonly injured ligament. People often suffer and MCL injury because of the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. 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 your foot stays in one place while you’re moving.
Athletes in contact sports are the most likely to sustain an MCL injury. They can also occur in people who lift weights or lift heavy objects at 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
- The knee being unstable
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- 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 the knee feels too stiff. If you suspect you may have suffered an MCL injury, 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 Sunset Hills, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Sunset Hills, 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 Sunset Hills, MO will be able 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 create detailed images of the knee joint
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the MCL 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 will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 mandates a prescription for further physical therapy.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Sunset Hills, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving pain, and using 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 a few days or week or two of rest may be enough to get mostly back to normal.
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 strenuous until your knee is strong again. Your Axes physical therapist in Sunset Hills, MO can fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from moving side to side while your MCL is still healing. Even with physical therapy, you’ll likely still continue the R.I.C.E. method and anti-inflammatory 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 structures of the knee. The surgery is carried out by using a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reattach the torn sections. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If you do require surgery in Sunset Hills, MO, our physical therapists will be able to help you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the surgery, and you’ll safely restore, strength, flexibility, and range of motion after.
How Can Physical Therapy in Sunset Hills, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
For recovering from any injury, a physically therapist will design safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient as an individual. 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:
- At the start, passive movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to regain strength
- Exercises with resistant bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests 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 lessening stress on the joint
- Athletic training and sports therapy for those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Sunset Hills, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created in concert with your physician, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to the activities you love.
Other conditions we help treat in Sunset Hills, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Sunset Hills, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, especially if you’re used to being physically active, 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 Sunset Hills, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.