MCL Injury | Wickes, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Wickes, 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 suffer an MCL injury? Is it significant? How long will it take to recover? Will my knee ever be the same again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Wickes, MO, we are driven by getting our clients back to tearing up the filed. 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 aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Wickes, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call 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 like a strong, firmly attached rope that connects bone to bone 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 primary purpose is to guard against valgus stress, or the knee being pushed unnaturally towards the other one. 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 prevents the knee from bending inward
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL in the middle of the knee and controls backward movement
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which runs along the outside of the knee from the thigh bone to the fibula (the smaller bone between the knee and ankle) and helps keep the outer side of your knee joint stable
The knee is known for being one of our most complex joints. 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 limit or completely restrict your mobility and ability to do what you love most, or just get around the house pain-free. Certain physical therapy exercises and other physician-prescribed treatment plans have been proven to help those who have suffered an MCL injury mitigate pain and swelling and return to optimal movement health.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury is either a sprain, which stretches the ligament beyond its normal range of motion, or a tear, where the ligament 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 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 injury is when the MCL suffers more significant tearing, usually to the more fibrous part of the ligament. Your knee will be slightly unstable, and your joint may be loose when moved by hand. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- 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 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 expert Wickes, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, as a team with your physician, create a comprehensive plan specially made for you and your injuries to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
What Causes MCL Injuries?
Ligament injuries account for 40% of all knee injuries, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. 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 by the knee rotating too forcefully. They can also take place when landing or excessive 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 are also common in those who have to squat and lift heavy objects, either for athletic training or in the course of their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most MCL injuries are accompanied by sudden, noticeable pain. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping noise or feeling
- Feeling like the may buckle
- Not being able to put any weight on the knee
- 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 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.
Diagnosing and Treating an MCL Injury in Wickes, MO
MCL injuries are diagnosed in a doctor’s office, urgent care or at a physical therapy center. In the examination, your Wickes, MO doctor or physical therapist will go over how the injury occurred, will feel for swelling and how your knee is different from your healthy knee, and gently see if your knee is unstanble while bending inward, and your pain level.
Most physical therapists or physicians that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Wickes, MO will be able 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 magnet and computer-generated radio waves to take 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
Alternatively, you can visit the Axes location most convenient for you for a complimentary, no-obligation injury screening. While we will be able to diagnose your injury, Missouri law mandates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
Treating an MCL Injury in Wickes, MO
Right after your MCL injury, you should start with basic first aid: reducing swelling, relieving pain, 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, pain and swelling relievers, and some time with limited activity may be sufficient to get mostly back to normal.
More significant injuries 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 to refrain from most physical activity for an even longer period. Your Axes physical therapist in Wickes, MO can fit you for a knee brace to give your knee stability while it’s healing. With physical therapy, you’ll still continue icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Though uncommon, the worst grade 1 tears — 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 performed by using a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reconstruct the ligament. 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 to make your surgery and recovery as successful as possible.
How Do Physical Therapists in Wickes, 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’s specific injury and the lifestyle they want to get back to. 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 in the interest of not only recovery, but injury prevention. A physical therapist may recommend and implement the following practices:
- To begin, light movements carried about by your physical therapist to slowly get the ligament used to normal motion again
- Exercised performed by you 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 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 improve strength while lifting lighter weights
- Athletic training and sports therapy for athletes who want to improve their performance
At Axes Physical Therapy in Wickes, MO, all of our treatment plans are as unique as each patient, and created in concert with your physician, in order to get you the best patient outcome possible and get you back to the activities you love.
Other services we offer in Wickes, 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 Wickes, 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 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 Wickes, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.