MCL Injury | Washington, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Washington, 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? Is it significant? How long will I be sidelines for? Will I have to permanently give up the things I love doing? At Axes Physical Therapy in Washington, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. While we’d like to be able to magically fix your MCL, we can help ensure you get back to feeling like yourself with safe, evidence-backed treatments. Physical therapy has proven to be a fundamental part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Washington, MO are all licensed and average more than 15 years of individual experience. For treatment plans you know will be effective, reach out to the Axes location most convenient for you you or contact us online.
The Anatomy of 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 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 helps keep your knee stable and functioning normally. Its functions to withstand valgus stress, or the knee being pushed 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 provides rotational stability and prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL inside the knee and prevents excessive posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the thigh bone 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 we have. Correct structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. There are a variety of knee injuries that can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and compete like you’re used to, or just complete basic tasks pain-free. Particular physical therapy techniques and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been proven to help patients reduce pain and return to normal mobility.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves 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 the fibers in your ligament are torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee will still be stable. Symptoms will likely be tenderness and some soreness.
- Grade 2 — This injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, generally to the more fibrous part of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when moved by hand. A grade 2 injury will result in significantly more pain than a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — A grade 3 tear is a complete tear, or separation from the bone. You will retain little to no stability. You will likely experience significant pain and a wide array of symptoms. The injury may actually caused by or accompanied by other serious knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Whatever grade MCL injury you have, our qualified Washington, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, implement an exhaustive plan specially made for you and your injuries aimed at returning you to the life you’re used to in a safe and effective manner.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to the MCL, LCL, ACL, or PCL, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. Most MCL injuries occur due to a blow to the outer edge of the knee. MCL injuries can also occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully. They can also occur because of landing or unnatural bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass 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 lift weights or lift heavy objects at their work.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most MCL injuries are accompanied by sudden, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- A sudden “pop” on the inside of your knee
- Feeling like the may buckle
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Swelling, either on the inside of the knee 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 the knee feels too stiff. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, stop any strenuous activity immediately and seek medical treatment for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Washington, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. The exam will usually start with a doctor or physical therapist in Washington, 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 Washington, MO will be able to diagnose 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 create three-dimensional images of the inside of your knee
- An ultrasound, which uses sound waves and can help determine how severely the ligament is torn
- An X-ray, which, while it won’t show the MCL or other ligaments, 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 Revised Statute §334.506 stipulates a prescription in order to officially begin physical therapy treatment.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Washington, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: reducing swelling, reducing pain, and using the R.I.C.E. Method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. For mild injuries, the R.I.C.E method, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be sufficient for your body to heal itself.
Professional physical therapy is needed for more severe tears to restore strength and function 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 Washington, 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.
Though uncommon, the most severe cases — 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 carried out by using a graft, either from your hamstring or an organ donor, to reattach the torn sections. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists are experts at pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the ligament reconstruction, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Do Physical Therapists in Washington, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The objective of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to implement safe and evidence-backed treatments, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body regain a specific level or function. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the surrounding muscles, flexibility of soft tissue, 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 carried about by your physical therapist to slowly get the ligament used to normal motion again
- More active exercises and stretches later to regain strength
- Exercises with resistant bands, weight lifting equipment, or cardio machines such as treadmill
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and helps control motion
- Trigger point dry needling to stimulate harder-to-reach tissue
- 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 reduce the risk of reinjury
At Axes Physical Therapy in Washington, 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 doing what you love to do most.
Other services we offer in Washington, 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 Washington, MO for Your MCL Injury
An MCL injury is scary and anxiety-inducing at first, especially if you’re an athlete, 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. 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 Washington, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.