Does Massage Help MCL Injury?

Medically Reviewed on 4/3/2021
Massage therapy has been known to reduce the recovery time and minimize scar tissue
Massage therapy has been known to reduce the recovery time and minimize scar tissue

Massage therapy has been known to reduce the recovery time and minimize scar tissue in cases of injuries. However, it is essential to get massage therapy from a licensed physical therapist or massage therapist for effective results. Massage increases the blood flow to the injured body parts by gently stimulating blood vessels and soft tissue. It also works on the pain receptors by tricking them to neglect the deeper pain. As a result, the body’s natural tissue repair and overall healing process are stimulated.

It is important to remember that an acute injury (less than 24 hours), injury with swelling, and a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury with an untreated fracture are never massaged. It is best to get rest and keep the affected area immobilized.
 

What is an MCL?

The medial collateral ligament or MCL is a thick band of tissue located inside the knees. It extends 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 and allows it to rotate

What are some other treatment options to treat an MCL injury?

Nonsurgical options

Some of the immediate nonsurgical treatment options of medial collateral ligament or MCL tear include:

  • Resting
  • Applying ice packs to reduce swelling
  • Compressing the knee using an elastic bandage or brace
  • Elevating the knee above the heart to help with swelling
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and swelling
  • Using crutches to keep weight off of the injured knee

Rehabilitation options

Once you recover, it is crucial to regain strength in the knee and prevent further injury. Hence, some of the rehabilitation treatments include:

  • Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve the knee’s range of motion
  • Wearing a protective knee brace during a physical activity
  • Restricting activities that can cause further injury, such as contact sports

Surgical options

MCL injury heals on its own and does not require surgery in most cases. Surgery becomes necessary:

  • When the damage is severe and cannot repair naturally.
  • When there is an injury to other ligaments.

The physician may use arthroscopy or knee-hole surgery to repair an MCL injury.

Other options

Apart from massage therapy, low-intensity ultrasound therapy has shown promising results to treat MCL injuries according to a study.

Besides, psychological treatment, such as talk therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy), is an option for those who are frustrated or depressed about their MCL injury.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/3/2021
References
Miyamoto RG, Bosco JA, Sherman OH. Treatment of Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. March 2009; 17(3):152-161. https://journals.lww.com/jaaos/Fulltext/2009/03000/Treatment_of_Medial_Collateral_Ligament_Injuries.4.aspx

Avruskin A. Physical Therapy Guide to Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury. American Physical Therapy Association. 2013. https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-medial-collateral-ligament-mcl-injury