The medial collateral ligament or MCL tear may heal on its own with the right care, rehabilitation, and rest. Healing depends on the severity of the injury.
As the MCL has a good blood supply, most MCL tear usually responds to simple home treatments, such as:
- Resting the knee
- Wearing a brace
- Taking over the counter painkillers
However, the physician may indicate surgery (in rare cases) if the injury is severe.
What is an MCL?
The medial collateral ligament or MCL is a thick band of tissue located in the legs that extend from inside the knees i.e., from the thighbone (femur) to a point on the shinbone (tibia), which is about 4-6 inch from the knee. The main functions of an MCL include:
- Prevents the leg from extending too far inward
- Helps to keep the knee stable
- Allows the knee to rotate
What is an MCL tear?
The medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear usually occurs when a strong force hits from outside the knee, causing the MCL and other ligaments to stretch or tear. It is frequently encountered by:
- Football players
- Sports player engaged in basketball, hockey, and skiing
- People undergoing repetitive minor injuries
It is most common in athletes, who play contact sports, because there are high chances of them colliding with each other while playing. However, MCL tear may also occur in non-athletes. Repeated stress to the ligaments can cause the ligament to lose its stretch and elasticity.
Depending on the severity of pain and looseness of the knee joint, MCL tear can be classified as:
- Grade 1: Some tenderness and minor pain at the injury site
- Grade 2: It is characterized by:
- Noticeable looseness in the knee when moved by hand
- Moderate pain and tenderness at the inside of the knee
- Some people may experience swelling too
- Grade 3: It is characterized by:
- Considerable pain and tenderness at the inside of the knee
- Some swelling and marked joint instability
- The knee opens about 1 cm (slightly less than half an inch) when the doctor moves the leg around
- A grade 3 MCL tear often occurs in conjunction with an anterior cruciate ligament tear
What are some of the ways to prevent MCL tears?
Most of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear occurs during contact sports. They may also occur after:
- An accident
- Twisting or turning the knee unnaturally
- Activity, such as skiing, that places strain on the knees
It is impossible to avoid these situations, but you can follow some of these preventive measures to limit an MCL tear:
- Warming up before an exercise
- Performing strengthening exercises for your muscle and ligaments to make them strong and flexible
- Wearing well-fitting shoes or appropriate protection equipment
- Avoid running on uneven surfaces
- Do not exercise with an existing injury
- Take proper rest after an MCL tear
- Practice balance and agility exercises and drills
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
The University of California. MCL Tear Diagnosis. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/mcl-tear/diagnosis
Cedars-Sinai. Medial Collateral Ligament Tears. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/m/medial-collateral-ligament-tears.html
Top Can an MCL Tear Heal on Its Own? Related Articles
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
How Do You Know if You Have an MCL Injury?A medial collateral ligament injury, or MCL injury, is a common knee injury. You know you have an MCL injury because you experience pain, swelling, stiffness and knee weakness.
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Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL)Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is not known what causes MCL. MCL signs and symptoms include fever, enlarged spleen and liver, fatigue, and weight loss. Treatment of MCL incorporates radiotherapy and chemotherapy. MCL has a poor prognosis as it typically is diagnosed in a late stage.
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) InjuryThe medial collateral ligament (MCL) is one of four ligaments that stabilize the knee. MCL injuries are referred to as tears or sprains. Sprains are graded from 1-3 based on the severity of the injury. Symptoms and signs of MCL injuries include swelling, pain, stiffness, and limping. Treatment of MCL injuries may involve resting and bracing the affected knee, and physical therapy can help to restore the range of motion.