MCL Injury | Valley Park, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Valley Park, 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 I be sidelines for? Will I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Valley Park, MO, we are driven by getting our clients back to the activities they love most. While we can’t, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, evidence-backed treatments. Physical therapy has been shown time and time again to be an integral component of recovering from any MCL injury. Our physical therapists in Valley Park, 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.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a fibrous of connective tissue that connects bones to each other and provides stability. The MCL runs from the inside of your upper shin bone to the inside of your bottoms thigh bone and maintains stability in the inner knee. Its functions to withstand valgus stress, or the knee being forced too far 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 acts as a secondary front and back stabilizer
- 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 helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is one of the largest joints in the human body. It depends on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide support and function properly. There are numerous knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just live a pain-free day-to-day life. Certain physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been proven to help patients mitigate pain and swelling and get back to normal functionality.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, which stretches the ligament farther than is naturally, or a tear, where the MCL is either partially or completely torn or separated from the bone. MCL injuries are “graded” in three levels:
- 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 are not generally severe, and your knee will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience soreness.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, generally to the middle layer of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and your joint may be loose when moved by hand. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. You will likely feel like your knee’s about to buckle. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel 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 professional Valley Park, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, along with your doctor, create an extensive and tailored plan aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to safely.
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. Most MCL injuries occur due to a force to the outer edge of the knee. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also happen because of landing or excessive bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass while your leg keeps moving.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in athletic events that require a lot of cutting and jumping such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. 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
If you suffer an MCL injury in Valley Park, MO, you’ll likely notice the pain right away. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or sensation
- Feeling like the may buckle
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Swelling, either on the inside of the knee or the entire knee joint
Sometimes your knee may feel like your knee is loose when you walk, even if walking doesn’t hurt, or in other cases 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 seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Valley Park, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Valley Park, 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 physicians that specialize in mobility of the human body in Valley Park, MO are qualified to determine if you have an MCL injury with the above procedures. 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 magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to produce detailed images of your soft tissue
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the MCL is torn
- An X-ray, which does not show soft tissue, to insure your femur, patella, tibia, and fibula have not been broken
Axes Physical Therapy also offers injury screening injury screenings at no cost or obligation to you. While we can offer you an evaluation, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 requires that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
Treating an MCL Injury in Valley Park, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: swelling reduction, relieving 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 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 tears 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 Valley Park, 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 joint. The surgery is performed by using a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reattach the torn sections. You would not have to be hospitalized overnight. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, 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 ligament reconstruction, and you’ll safely restore, strength, flexibility, and range of motion after.
How Do Physical Therapists in Valley Park, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The goal of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to create safe, targeted, 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 knee 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 performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the knee used to normal motion again
- More active exercises and stretches later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as an elliptical
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and encourages normal function
- Trigger point dry needling to further help the body’s natural healing process
- Blood flow restriction training to improve strength 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 Valley Park, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed specifically for you, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created in concert with your doctor, in order to deliver you the best client experience and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Valley Park, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Valley Park, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury can be painful and frightening, especially if you’re used to being physically active, but with our help, the ailment is only temporary. We know you place a lot of trust in your physical therapists, 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 Valley Park, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.