What is the MCL?
The medial collateral ligament AKA MCL is a thick, strong band of connective tissue on the inside portion of your knee. It connects the top part of the tibia (shin) to the bottom part of the femur (thigh). This is a vital ligament that works along the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) to bring stability, structure, and movement to the knee. The MCL provides support and stability for the inside (medial) aspect of the knee.
What are the Causes of MCL Tears?
MCL tears are a common injury in sports such as football, hockey, and skiing. The ligament can be stretched or even torn due to direct blows, but it usually happens when you hit the outer aspect of your knee at high speeds. Other causes could include:
- repeated stress on the joint without adequate time for healing
- abrupt change in direction or speed
- a sudden contraction of muscles with high force
Like other tears to knee ligaments, a doctor will ask you about your symptoms and then perform a physical examination. They may also order some tests, such as an MRI or an X-ray scan, to help diagnose the tear. An in-office ultrasound is an effective imaging modality to evaluate the presence and severity of an MCL tear. An additional advantage is that it does not require pre-authorization or a separate appointment.
Orthopedists categorize MCL tears into 3 grades:
Grade 1 Tears
A partial-thickness MCL tear is where only a portion of the MCL is torn. On ultrasound or MRI, a portion of the MCL would be torn but the remaining fibers would be normal.
Grade 2 Tears
A grade 2 MCL tear involves a tear that extends across the entire MCL and therefore is referred to as a full-thickness tear. The ligament has not pulled apart or snapped back upon itself and therefore is referred to as non-retracted. These types of tears can be treated with ultrasound-guided PRP or bone marrow concentrate.
Grade 3 Tears
A grade 3 tear is a full-thickness tear that extends across the MCL and unlike a Grade 2 the ligament has pulled apart. This means that the two pieces of the ligament have pulled apart or maybe even snapped back like a rubber band. This type of tear requires surgery
Some home remedies that can be used for MCL tears are as follows:
- Rest the knee: This is one of the most important things that you can do when you have a MCL tear. Taking a break from strenuous activities will help the knee to heal.
- Use heat which promotes increased blood flow to the area.
- Fish oil and Turmeric which can help with the swelling and pain
- Avoid the use of Ice as it restricts blood flow and can limit inflammation. Remember inflammation is the first step in healing.