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Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury


This is a common injury of the knee. Your knee joint is cushioned by two c-shaped wedges of cartilage called the “menisci.” Each individual cushion is called a “meniscus.” This injury is a tear of one of these cushions.


Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

Causes & Triggers

Meniscus tears are often caused by physical activity. Twisting or rotating your knee suddenly can cause a meniscus to tear. Kneeling, squatting and heavy lifting can as well. And as you age, your menisci gradually become thin and brittle, which can increase your risk for a tear.

  • Direct blow or trauma
  • Sports injury

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may include a popping sensation and pain in your knee. You may have trouble straightening your leg. It may swell and stiffen, and it may lock in place.

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Feeling of knee “giving way”

Tips & Treatment

Treatment options include rest, ice and medications. You may benefit from physical therapy. If these are not helpful, you may benefit from a surgical procedure to repair the damage. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.

  • Severity of MCL injuries are graded as follows:
    • Mild-Grade 1: Light damage, slight tearing of the ligament
    • Moderate-Grade 2: Partial tear with more significant pain and instability
    • Severe-Grade 3: Complete tear with severe pain, swelling and instability
  • Treatment usually involves immobilizing the knee, resting, ice and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Non-surgical treatment can last 2-6 weeks or longer.
  • Because this condition responds well to rest and conventional non-surgical treatment, surgery is rarely required for repair.

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