The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is situated on the inner aspect, or part, of the knee, but outside the joint itself. Ligaments connect bones as well as offer stability and strength to a joint.
The MCL attaches the top of the tibia (shinbone) to the bottom of the femur (thighbone). An injury to the MCL is commonly referred to as an MCL sprain. Ligament injuries may either stretch the ligament or tear it.
MCL injury of the knee typically occurs due to a direct blow to the knee. This type of injury occurs commonly in contact sports. It is typically the result of a blow or hit to the outer aspect of the knee, which causes the MCL to stretch or tear.
Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide procedures for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and surrounding communities.
Types of MCL Injuries
MCL injuries can be categorized as grades 1, 2, or 3:
- Grade 1: A grade 1 MCL injury is the least severe, and it signifies that the ligament has been stretched but not torn.
- Grade 2: A grade 2 MCL injury implies that the ligament has been partially torn, which typically leads to some instability in the knee joint.
- Grade 3: A grade 3 MCL injury refers to the severe type of ligament injury, and it means that the ligament is completely torn. A grade 3 MCL sprain commonly causes joint instability.
How’s an MCL Injury Treated?
Treatment options differ depending on the severity of the MCL injury. A majority of MCL injuries will heal by themselves following a few weeks of rest.
Immediate treatment is required to ease pain and help stabilize the knee. The treatment options include the following:
- Applying ice to reduce inflammation
- Raising the knee above the heart to help with inflammation
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease pain and inflammation
- Compressing the knee using a brace or an elastic bandage
- Using crutches to keep weight off the injured knee
When recovering from the injury, the goal is to regain strength in the knee and prevent further injury. The treatment options may include:
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and enhance the range of motion of the knee
- Wearing a protective knee brace during physical activity
- Restricting activities that can lead to further injury, such as contact sports
In rare circumstances, an MCL injury will necessitate surgery. A patient will need surgery when the ligament is damaged in such a manner that it cannot repair itself. It is also undertaken when the MCL injury occurs along with other ligament injuries.
Prior to the surgery, the surgeon may use arthroscopy to properly examine the extent of the injury and to look for associated injuries inside the knee. In arthroscopy, a small and narrow camera is inserted through a small incision, or cut.
Following the arthroscopic exam, the surgeon will make a tiny incision along the inner aspect of the knee. In case the ligament is torn where it connects either to the shinbone or the thighbone, the surgeon can use one of the following to reattach it:
- Large stitches
- Bone staples
- A metal screw
- A device known as a suture anchor
The surgeon will stitch the ligament together if the tear is in the middle of the ligament. Board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Thomas and Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada as well as Greater Pahrump, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Mesquite, NV, and nearby areas for knee and shoulder procedures.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.
Serving patients from and around greater Las Vegas, Lake Havasu, Bullhead City, Mesquite, Pahrump, Nevada.