MCL Injury | Womack, MO Physical Therapy
MCL Injury in Womack, 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 it take to recover? Will I ever be able to perform at the same level again? At Axes Physical Therapy in Womack, MO, we are driven by positive patient outcomes. While we can’t, we can make your recovery safe and effective through customized, evidence-based treatment plans. Physical therapy has proven to be a fundamental aspect of any treatment plan for MCL injuries. Our physical therapists in Womack, MO are movement health experts. For lasting and meaningful recovery, call the Axes location nearest you or contact us online.
How the MCL Works
MCL an acronym for “medial collateral ligament.” A ligament is a tough, flexible of connective tissue that attaches bone to bone and keeps joints stable. The MCL connects your upper shin bone to the inner surface of the bottom thigh bone, running along your inner knee, and keeps the knee from moving side to side. Its main purpose is to resist valgus stress, or the knee being forced 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 tibia from sliding too far forward on the femur
- PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), which crosses the ACL in the middle of the knee and keeps the tibia from sliding back too far
- LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which attaches 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 in the human body. It depends on surrounding bone and muscle, and the tendons and ligaments in order to provide support and function properly. When any knee injury, such as an MCL tear, occurs it can limit or completely restrict your mobility and pursue the activities you love most, 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 those who have suffered an MCL injury manage their symptoms and return to optimal movement health.
What Types of MCL Injuries Are There?
In general, an MCL injury either involves a sprain, wherein the MCL is stretched beyond its normal limits, or a tear, where the MCL may fray partially or entirely separate from the bone. MCL injuries are “graded” in three tiers:
- 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 ligament are torn. These are not generally severe, and your knee largely remains 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 more fibrous part of the MCL. You will probably lose some stability in the joint, and the knee will likely be loose when manipulated manually. Symptoms of a grade 2 MCL injury generally include much more noticeable pain.
- 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 experience significant pain and a wide array of symptoms. Grade 3 MCL injuries often occur alongside other knee injuries such as ACL tears.
However significant your MCL injuries, the team of licensed Womack, MO physical and occupational therapists at Axes can, in concert with your physician, implement an exhaustive plan specially made for you and your injuries to get you back to the things you love in a safe and effective manner.
How Do MCL Injuries Occur?
40% of all knee injuries involve damage to a ligament, and most of the time that ligament is the MCL. 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 more than the ligament can support. They can also happen because of landing or excessive bending, such as if a cleat is stuck in grass 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 hunch over and lift heavy objects, either for athletic training or in the course of their employment.
Common Symptoms of MCL Injuries
Most people feel pain immediately on the inside of the knee when they experience an MCL sprain or tear. Other symptoms may include:
- Hearing or feeling a popping sound or sensation
- The knee being unstable
- Pain or discomfort when trying to bear weight
- Tenderness on the inside of your knee
- Swelling, either where the MCL is located or the whole knee
Sometimes you may feel a “wobbly” sensation, while other times the knee feels too stiff. If you experience any of the above symptoms, stop any strenuous activity immediately and schedule a physical examination in order to get a diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of an MCL Injury in Womack, MO
Diagnosing an MCL injury requires going to a physical examination. In the examination, your Womack, 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 perform a valgus stress test.
Most physical therapists or physicians that specialize in the musculoskeletal system in Womack, MO will be able 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 magnet and radio waves to take detailed images of your soft tissue
- 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, 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 can offer you an evaluation, Missouri law stipulates that physical therapy be prescribed by a doctor.
Treating an MCL Injury in Womack, MO
Typically, treating an MCL injury begins with basic first aid: inflammation reduction, managing 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, pain and swelling relievers, and a few days or week or two of rest may be enough for your body to heal itself.
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 time resting to allow your body to heal safely. Your Axes physical therapist in Womack, MO will be able to fit you for a knee brace in order to prevent your knee from moving side to side while your MCL is still healing. With physical therapy, you’ll still continue icing your knee and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Though rare, the most severe cases — in which the MCL is completely torn, the injury is accompanied by an ACL tear, or you are not recovering after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment — may require surgery. During the surgery, a surgeon will use a graft, either from your hamstring or from another person, to reconstruct the MCL. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. If your doctor thinks surgery is necessary, our physical therapists will be able to treat you with pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation, which ensures that your knee will be healthy enough for the operation, and you’ll build back strength safely after the surgery.
How Can Physical Therapy in Womack, MO Treat My MCL Injury?
The objective of physical therapy, when dealing with any injury, is to create safe and evidence-backed treatments, each aimed at helping a specific part of the body get back to optimal movement health. 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:
- At the start, passive movements performed by your physical therapist to help restore normal functionality
- Exercised performed by you later to further develop strength and flexibility
- Exercises with resistant bands, weights, or cardio machines such as a stationary bike
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, which research suggests can accelerate knee ligament healing
- Kinesio Taping®, which keeps the knee stable and helps control motion
- 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 those whose main goal is to get back onto the court or field
At Axes Physical Therapy in Womack, MO, all of our treatment plans are designed individually to each patient, backed by empirical evidence, 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 Womack, MO include:
- Shoulder Pain
- Injury Prevention
- Knee Injury
- Joint Pain
- Dry Needling
- ACL Tear
- Pain Management
Call an Axes Physical Therapist in Womack, 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 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 Womack, MO, call the location nearest you and request an appointment online.