MCL Injury | Weldon Spring Heights, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Weldon Spring Heights, MO. If someone plays sports or engages in other physical activity, feeling that sudden “pop” in their knee creates a lot of anxiety: 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 Weldon Spring Heights, MO, we are driven by getting our clients back to the activities they love most. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through personalized, proven treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be an essential part of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Weldon Spring Heights, MO specialize helping a variety of injuries and conditions in the musculoskeletal system heal. For lasting and meaningful recovery, reach out to the Axes location nearest you or contact us online.
The Anatomy of the MCL
MCL is an abbreviation for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that affixes bones to each other 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 moving normally. Its functions to withstand valgus stress, or the knee being forced 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 runs down the center of your knee and provides rotational stability and controls forward movement
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which forms an “X” with the ACL in the middle of 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 femur to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and gives stability to the outer knee
The knee is one of the biggest joints we have. Optimal structure and function depends on surrounding bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can have tremendous consequences for your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, or just get around the house pain-free. Specific 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?
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 sprain or tear means that the ligament has been stretched, and less than 10% of the the fibers in your MCL are torn. It’s typically a mild injury, and your knee will still be stable. Your knee will feel tender, and you may also experience mild pain.
- Grade 2 — This is a more moderate tear, generally to the superficial part of the MCL. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when manipulated manually. Pain is much more severe in a grade 2 MCL injury.
- Grade 3 — This injury is a complete tear to both the fibrous and deep parts. You will retain little to no stability. Pain will be intense and you’ll likely feel a wide array of symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
However significant your MCL injuries, our qualified Weldon Spring Heights, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, develop an extensive and personalized plan to get you back to the things you love safely.
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. MCL injuries occur due to the knee suddenly being forced too far inward. MCL injuries can also by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also happen because of landing or awkward bending, such as if your foot stays in one place while the rest of your body moves.
MCL injuries usually occur athletes in contact sports and in activities that require a lot of sudden movement such as football, soccer, skiing, basketball, and tennis. 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 immediate, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or feeling
- The knee being unstable
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- Tenderness where the MCL is located
- Swelling, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes you may feel a “wobbly” sensation, or in other cases the knee feels too rigid. Any time you feel pain or instability in your knee, stop any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Weldon Spring Heights, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, emergency room or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Weldon Spring Heights, 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 that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Weldon Spring Heights, MO are qualified to determine if you have an MCL injury with a physical examination. 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 radio waves to produce three-dimensional images of your soft tissue
- 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 visit the Axes location most convenient for you for a complimentary, no-risk injury screening. While we can determine if you have suffered an MCL injury, Missouri Revised Statute §334.506 requires that physical therapy be prescribed by a physician.
How to Treat and MCL Injury in Weldon Spring Heights, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, managing pain, and utilizing 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 spent resting may be enough for your body’s natural healing processes to get you back on your feet.
Grade 2 or 3 tears will require professional physical therapy in order truly recover from your MCL injury and get back to the activities you love. You’ll also need time off your feet to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Weldon Spring Heights, MO can fit you for a knee brace so that you don’t suffer further injury. 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 an organ donor, to reconstruct the ligament. 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 surgery, and you’ll safely restore, strength, flexibility, and range of motion after.
How Do Physical Therapists in Weldon Spring Heights, MO Treat MCL Injuries?
The goal of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to implement safe, effective, and evidence-backed treatment methods based on each patient as an individual. Physical therapy slowly and effectively improves strength in the strength in the muscles that power the knee, 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 motions performed by your physical therapist to slowly get the MCL used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with elastic bands, weights, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which has been proven to help accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which provides further stability while your body heals and encourages normal function
- 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 those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Weldon Spring Heights, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, proven through peer-reviewed research, and created alongside 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 Weldon Spring Heights, 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 Weldon Spring Heights, 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 we repay that trust with safe and effective treatments that are 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 Weldon Spring Heights, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.