MCL, Knee Joint Caloundra

October 17, 2010

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is on the inside of the knee joint and spans from the end of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone). It resists widening of the inside of the joint, or prevents “opening-up” of the knee. The MCL is usually injured when the outside of the knee joint is struck. This action causes the outside of the knee to buckle, and the inside to widen, which can stretch/ tear the MCL. It commonly occurs in downhill skiing or in contact sports when an opponent falls across the knee from the outside. An injury to the MCL may occur as an isolated injury, or it may be part of a complex injury to the knee involving the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or the meniscus.

There is pain over the ligament and it can swell and/or bruise 1-2 days after the injury. In more severe injuries, the knee may feel unstable. There are three grades of an MCL injury:

I: being incomplete and mild with 1-2 weeks recovery,
II: being incomplete and marked with 3-4 weeks recovery,
III: complete and significant, usually with associated injuries requiring 6+ weeks recovery.

A MCL injury rarely requires surgery. Rehab will usually allow patients to return to sport, however the time it takes corresponds to the grade of the injury. Aims of treatment are to control pain and swelling, regain full range and strength, full weight bearing without limp and return to sport as indicated.